In most reported cyber crimes involving theft of funds, the victim is a small business or municipality. In a rare case, cyber thieves recently stole money directly from a credit union’s internal funds.
On May 20, Treasury Credit Union of Salt Lake City, Utah, became the victim of more than 70 unauthorized transfers from internal accounts. All the transfers were in amounts under $5000, but the total stolen was “in the low six figures”.
The FBI is investigating the case, in which many of the transfers were actually executed by “money mules”, i.e., people recruited for that specific purpose. Some of the “mules” were apparently unwitting about the criminal nature of their activity. The “brains” behind this type of cyber crime are often located in Eastern Europe (in this case, Ukraine).
The key to the crime was the furtive planting of a “Trojan horse” program on the computer of one of the credit union’s employees. That malware program forwarded the employee’s on-line banking credentials (user name, password, etc.) to the criminals in the Ukraine, who used them in an orchestrated manner to steal as much money as possible before the crime was discovered and halted.
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