Fri, Jun 26, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Turkish man pleads not guilty in US to ATM-hack charges


A Turkish citizen pleaded not guilty to charges he masterminded a scheme that siphoned tens of millions of dollars from automated teller machines (ATMs), appearing in a US court for the first time after an 18-month extradition battle.

Ercan Findikoglu, also known as the “Predator,” allegedly ran a network that hacked payment processing firms, gaining access to prepaid debit cards.

The scheme included JPMorgan Chase & Co-issued cards used by the Red Cross to provide funds to disaster victims, according to a US federal grand jury indictment unsealed on Wednesday in Brooklyn, New York.

The compromised cards were distributed in New York City and at least 20 countries to withdraw money from automatic teller machines. Three such operations were cited in the indictment resulting in withdrawals of a total of US$55 million.

In one case, the group used compromised cards in about 36,000 transactions to withdraw about US$40 million over two days in February 2013.

Findikoglu eluded capture for five years before being caught in Germany in December 2013. Members of the alleged New York cell were caught within months and prosecuted by a team led by now US Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Assistant US Attorney Hilary Jager at a hearing in Brooklyn federal court alleged Findikoglu is a “criminal mastermind,” with extensive contacts overseas, and told a federal magistrate judge that he presents an “overwhelming risk of flight.”

Jager also asked that Findikoglu not be permitted to use e-mail while in jail.

US Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom ordered Findikoglu to be held without bail.

Findikoglu, 33, told Bloom that he understood English but otherwise spoke little during the proceeding.

His lawyer, Christopher Madiou, declined to comment after the arraignment.

Findikoglu is to appear in court again on July 15.

Findikoglu faces counts of conspiracy, computer intrusion, bank fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice and trafficking in unauthorized devices, among other crimes. Prosecutors said he might face as long as 35 years in prison if convicted.

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