Thieves suck millions out of Mexican banks in transfer heist

Updated 15 May 2018
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Thieves suck millions out of Mexican banks in transfer heist

  • Hackers have sent hundreds of false orders to move amounts ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of pesos from banks to fake accounts in other banks.
  • The criminals are believed to have had help inside bank branches, since such big cash withdrawals are uncommon. 

MEXICO CITY: Thieves siphoned hundreds of millions of pesos out of Mexican banks, including No. 2 Banorte, by creating phantom orders that wired funds to bogus accounts and promptly withdrew the money, two sources close to the government’s investigation said.
Hackers sent hundreds of false orders to move amounts ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of pesos from banks including Banorte, to fake accounts in other banks, the sources said, and accomplices then emptied the accounts in cash withdrawals in dozens of branch offices.
One source said the thieves transferred more than 300 million pesos ($15.4 million). Daily newspaper El Financiero said about 400 million pesos had been stolen in the hack, citing an anonymous source.
It was not clear how much of the money transferred was later withdrawn in cash. Some of the attempts to fraudulently transfer funds were blocked, the sources said.
Mexico’s central bank Governor Alejandro Diaz de Leon told journalists late Monday that the attack on the payment system was unprecedented and that he hoped that measures being taken would stop future incidents.
“There’s no evidence that would allow us to say with certainty that this is over,” he said. “We’re taking corrective and mitigating action.”
Diaz de Leon declined to name banks or confirm amounts stolen, but said the central bank is still investigating what happened.
He later said in a radio interview that all the evidence, which is so far only partial, pointed to a cyberattack.
Lorenza Martinez, head of Banxico’s payment system, told Reuters on Friday that five institutions saw “unauthorized transfers.”
Inter-bank transfers slowed in later April, feeding worries that Latin America’s second biggest economy could be the latest victim in a global wave of cyberattacks.
Hackers may have had help inside bank branches, since such big cash withdrawals are uncommon, one source said.
“In terms of the security of the bank’s offices, I think that is part of the analysis that each bank is doing,” Martinez said.
He said that the central bank’s SPEI interbank transfer system was not compromised but that the problem had to do with software developed by institutions or third-party providers to connect to the payment system.
Many banks have migrated to an alternate, slower technology to connect to the payment system, she said.
A Banorte spokeswoman declined to answer questions from Reuters on Monday, and pointed to a May 9 statement from the bank that said clients’ deposits were not affected by the “incident.”
Mexico’s SPEI system is a domestic network similar to the SWIFT global messaging system that moves trillions of dollars each day. Hackers have used SWIFT connections to attack banks around the world.
The central bank also said that no clients had been affected so far. Martinez said that the transfers hit accounts of financial institutions in the central bank.


Britain would not block death penalty for Daesh suspects

Updated 23 July 2018
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Britain would not block death penalty for Daesh suspects

  • Britain was prepared to waive its long-standing objection to executions in the case of captured fighters, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh
  • Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokeswoman said Britain wanted the militants to be tried in the most appropriate jurisdiction

LONDON: Britain’s interior minister has indicated London would not object to Washington seeking the death penalty against two British Daesh militants if they are extradited to the United States, the Daily Telegraph reported on Monday.
According to a leaked letter published in the newspaper from British Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Britain was prepared to waive its long-standing objection to executions in the case of captured fighters, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh.
The two men are suspected of being two of four militants, dubbed the “Beatles” because of their English accents, who took part in the kidnap, torture and murder of Western hostages.
They were captured in Syria in January by a US-backed Syrian force, and Britain and the United States have been in discussions about how and where they should face justice.
According to the Telegraph, Javid wrote to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying Britain was not intending to request that the two men be sent to the United Kingdom, saying a successful prosecution in the United States was more likely.
Furthermore, he said Britain would not insist on guarantees the men would not be executed.
“I am of the view that there are strong reasons for not requiring a death penalty assurance in this specific case, so no such assurances will be sought,” the letter said.
“As you are aware, it is the long held position of the UK to seek death penalty assurances, and our decision in this case does not reflect a change in our policy on assistance in US death penalty cases generally, nor the UK Government’s stance on the global abolition of the death penalty.”
A Home Office spokesman said the government would not comment on leaked documents and Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokeswoman said Britain wanted the militants to be tried in the most appropriate jurisdiction.
“It’s a long-standing position of the government to oppose the death penalty ... as a matter of principle,” the spokeswoman told reporters. “We are continuing to engage with the US government on this issue and our priority is to make sure that these men face criminal prosecution.”
Guantanamo
The opposition Labour Party accused Javid of “secretly and unilaterally” abandoning Britain’s opposition to the death penalty.
“By doing so he is not just playing with the lives of these particular terrorists but those of other Britons — including potentially innocent ones — all over the world,” said Labour’s Shami Chakrabarti.
The Telegraph also reported that other documents suggested that Britain would not oppose the men being sent to the US-run Guantanamo Bay military facility.
However, the Home Office spokesman appeared to reject this saying: “The UK government’s position on Guantanamo Bay is that the detention facility should close.”
The most notorious of the four so called “Beatles” was Mohammed Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John,” who is believed to have been killed in a US-British missile strike in 2015.
He became the public face of Daesh and appeared in videos showing the murders of US journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and other hostages.
The mother of James Foley said she did not want the men to be executed if found guilty.
“I think that would just make them martyrs in their twisted ideology. I would like them held accountable by being sent to prison for the rest of their lives,” Diane Foley told BBC radio.