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Head of ATM-rigging gang detained in Spain

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Head of ATM-rigging gang detained in Spain

The leader of a criminal organization behind malware attacks on ATMs that caused cumulative losses of more than €1 billion for the financial industry has been detained in Alicante, Spain.

The Spanish Interior Ministry named the suspect as Denis K, a Ukrainian national operating from Spain, Bloomberg News reported March 26. The organized crime group behind the malware attacks known as Carbanak and Cobalt has targeted more than 100 financial institutions in more than 40 countries since 2013, EU law enforcement agency Europol said the same day.

The malware they created could remotely instruct ATMs to dispense cash at a pre-determined time, use an e-payment network to transfer money from banks into criminal accounts, and modify databases with account information to inflate bank account balances. The criminal profits were obtained by gang members and money mules, and were also laundered using cryptocurrencies.

In an emailed statement to Bloomberg, Spain's Interior Ministry said the gang mainly targeted Russian banks, penetrating practically the country's entire financial system.

Denis K was detained following an investigation conducted by Spanish police with support from Europol, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, authorities from Romania, Belarus and Taiwan and private cyber security companies, according to Europol.