MADRID (AP) — Police in Spain have captured a cybercrime gang made up of Ukrainians and Russians that allegedly stole more than 1 billion euros ($1.24 billion) from financial institutions worldwide in a five-year spree, authorities said Monday.
The gang’s alleged mastermind, identified as a Ukrainian and named only as “Denis K.,” was arrested in the coastal city of Alicante, 350 kilometers (220 miles) southeast of Madrid, according to statements issued by Spanish police and European Union law enforcement agency Europol.
Three suspected accomplices, said to be Russian and Ukrainian, were also arrested. Authorities didn’t say when the arrests took place.
The gang used malware to target more than 100 financial institutions worldwide, sometimes stealing up to 10 million euros in each heist. Almost all of Russia’s banks were targeted, and about 50 of them lost money in the attacks, authorities said.
The gang sent phishing emails with a malicious attachment to bank workers, Europol said. The software gave the gang remote control of infected machines, providing them with access to the internal banking network and infecting servers controlling ATMs.
ATMs were instructed to dispense cash at a pre-determined time, and the money was collected by organized crime groups supporting the main gang.
The gang converted its illicit gains into bitcoins and used the cryptocurrency to purchase assets, including houses and vehicles, in Spain.