When mobsters meet hackers, the new improved bank heist

The unprecedented heist of $81 million from the U.S. account of Bangladesh’s central bank is the latest among increasingly large thefts by criminals who have leveraged the speed and anonymity of hacking to revolutionise burgling banks.

Hundreds of millions of dollars, and perhaps much more, have been stolen from banks and financial services companies in recent years because of this alliance of traditional and digital criminals, with many victims not reporting the thefts for fear of reputational damage. 

Typically, security and cyber-crime experts say, hackers break into the computer systems of financial institutions and make, or incite others to make, fraudulent transactions to pliant accounts. Organised crime then uses techniques developed over decades to launder the money, giving the alliance much higher rewards than a hold-up or bank vault robbery, with much less risk.

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