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Turkish Man Sent to Prison in U.S. for $55M Cyber Heist

Turkish citizen Ercan Findikoglu, aged 35, was sentenced on Friday by a New York court to 8 years in prison for his leadership role in a cybercriminal organization that caused significant losses to banks worldwide.

Findikoglu, known online as “Segate,” “Predator” and “Oreon,” pleaded guilty in March to computer intrusion conspiracy, access device fraud conspiracy, and effecting transactions with unauthorized access devices. He faced nearly 58 years in prison.

According to authorities, between 2011 and 2013, the criminal gang Findikoglu was part of carried out three major campaigns that resulted in losses totaling more than $55 million.

The cybercrooks hacked into the systems of payment card processing companies, stole card data, including PINs, and eliminated withdrawal limits for those cards. The stolen card data was sent to other members of the group who encoded it onto the magnetic stripe of blank cards. The cards and their PINs were then distributed to a network of cashers who made thousands of fraudulent withdrawals at ATMs around the world.

In the first operation, which took place in February 2011, the fraudsters made 15,000 withdrawals in 18 countries, stealing roughly $10 million. In the next operation, in December 2012, they managed to steal approximately $5 million through 5,000 ATM transactions conducted in 20 countries.

The third and largest operation took place in February 2013, when the fraudsters withdrew roughly $40 million through 36,000 ATM transactions in 24 countries. Cashers in New York alone managed to obtain $2.4 million as a result of nearly 3,000 withdrawals.

Findikoglu was arrested in Germany in 2013 and extradited to the U.S. in 2015. Once he completes his prison sentence in the United States, he will be sent back to Turkey, where he has been sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison for payment card fraud.

The U.S. court that sentenced Findikoglu on Friday also ordered him to pay more than $55 million in restitution, but the New York Daily News reported that Turkish authorities seized all his assets and his current net worth is $150,000.

When they announced Findikoglu’s guilty plea back in March, U.S. authorities said they had already convicted dozens of other members of the cybercrime gang.

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Related: UK Man Involved in 2012 Yahoo Hack Sentenced to Prison

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Eduard Kovacs is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.