HomeNewsBriefHacker Network Foiled in $70 Million Bank Heist
BRIEF

Hacker Network Foiled in $70 Million Bank Heist

COLOMBIA / 22 DEC 2014 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

A transnational criminal group nearly pulled off a historic cyber-heist of one of Colombia’s biggest banks, highlighting how even the most advanced cyber security systems can be breached by what could soon be seen as the most common form of crime in the region.

A total of 17 computer hackers have been arrested by Colombia’s investigative police department DIJIN for attempting to steal roughly $70 million in January from the bank giant Bancolombia, reported El Tiempo. 

“It would have been the robbery of the century,” a representative of the DIJIN said of the failed criminal operation, reported El Espectador.

A man identified as Faber Restrepo is considered the head of the network. Restrepo allegedly used his job working as a consultant for Bancolombia to steal security passwords from the bank and make illicit money transfers to 356 accounts, according to El Espectador. The group was only able to transfer $3 million before the bank noticed what had taken place and stopped the operation.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Cyber Crime

One Spaniard is among the 17 arrested, while authorities reportedly hope to detain up to 70 more suspects involved in the breach, including two Venezuelan nationals. 

InSight Crime Analysis

This would have been a large heist but not the most sophisticated one. The success of the criminal operation seemed to hinge on having someone on the inside.

That is but one type of cyber crime. An equally daunting threat comes from an individual or small hacker collectives that steal information by penetrating government or private systems from the outside, then selling that information on the black market. Large criminal organizations could also hire hackers to breach cyber security systems, but contrary to Hollywood depictions (like Swordfish; see video below) where violent crime and hackers mesh into a single, terrifying force, there is no real-life evidence groups like this exist yet.

While it is too early to predict how the battle between cyber crime and cyber security will play out, the lure of vast sums of money via online hacking makes it the next frontier for organized crime.

Cyber crime already costs the Colombian economy hundreds of millions of dollars every year, with that number set to rise as government policies are slow to respond to the rapidly changing nature of crime and security. The OAS recommends (pdf) one way governments can adapt to this new security threat is by establishing a special prosecutor’s office for investigating cyber crimes, which Colombia currently lacks.

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 28 NOV 2012

Colombia's neo-paramilitary Urabeños are strengthening their presence across the border in Panama, expanding their influence over…

COCAINE / 30 OCT 2020

A 14-ton seizure of cocaine has exposed a trafficking network linking Colombian trafficking group Los Pachecna to a small smuggling…

COLOMBIA / 2 JUN 2020

The decision to send US troops into Colombia to help against drug trafficking is a troubling one, whether as part…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Strategic Communications Manager Job Description

12 FEB 2021

InSight Crime is looking for a full-time strategic communications manager. This person needs to be able to work in a fast-paced world of daily news, high-profile investigations, national and international…

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …