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Russian reportedly involved in ATM theft of NT$70 million

2016/07/12 11:07:18

Taipei, July 12 (CNA) Three people, including a Russian national, were involved in the theft of NT$70 million (US$2.17 million) from the automatic teller machines (ATMs) of First Bank over the weekend, police said Tuesday.

Police said they tracked the movement of the thieves through an extensive review of video footage from several surveillance cameras and found they left the country on July 11.

Aside from the Russian national, the identities of the other two suspects were still being investigated as of Tuesday morning, police said.

The authorities believe the thieves exploited a weakness in the system and are not ruling out the possibility that bank insiders were involved.

First Bank Vice President Yeh Chung-huei (葉仲惠) said the money was stolen from 34 ATMs at 20 of the bank's branches in Taipei and Taichung on July 9 and 10.

The bank suspects malware was installed into individual ATMs that prompted the machines to dispense bills automatically.

All of the machines affected were the same model machine made by Wincor Nixdorf, a German vendor of retail banking hardware, software, and services, and the 300 ATMs of the same model used by the bank were out of service Tuesday morning.

The bank first discovered the crime after resuming work on Monday following a three-day weekend when one of its branches found irregularities in the currency boxes of its ATMs.

The bank's surveillance video showed two unidentified men in hats and masks getting ATM machines to dispense a large amount of bills without going through standard operating procedures. The suspects dumped the bills into their backpacks and left quickly.

The transactions were conducted on July 9 and July 10, when Taiwan's attention was focused on the aftermath of Typhoon Nepartak and a bombing on a commuter train in northern Taiwan.

Because only bank clerks, security personnel in charge of filling the currency boxes and system maintenance engineers can control individual ATMs without going through the bank's main computer, the bank will first check those three sources for possible suspects.

Yeh said the interests of the bank's customers will be fully protected and not compromised in any way because the theft did not involve their passbook accounts.

(By Tien Yu-pin and Lilian Wu)