The card data was written onto "cloned" debit cards, which were then distributed to dozens, perhaps hundreds, of "cashers" who made two coordinated mass cash withdrawals in two dozen different countries. [5 Steps to Better Credit-Card Security]
In the first mass withdrawal, which lasted two and half hours on Dec. 22, 2012, more than 4,500 withdrawals were made, totaling $5 million.
Apparently satisfied with their results, the crooks went even bigger on Feb. 19-20, 2013, withdrawing $40 million in 36,000 different transactions over the course of 10 hours.
The New Yorkers' take was about $2.8 million, most of which was deposited into the defendants' bank accounts, but some of which was used to buy expensive German cars and Swiss watches.
The Brooklyn federal prosecutors' statement did not identify any other participants in the global scheme, say where the ultimate ringleaders were based or divulge how the case was cracked.
The statement thanked authorities in Belgium, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico, Romania, Spain, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.