News and Press Releases

Five New Arrests In $45 Million International Cyberheist Case

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2013

Newly Seized Photographic Evidence Shows $800,000 in Criminal Cash Proceeds in Suitcase Sent to Cyberattack Organizer

BROOKLYN, NY – Earlier today, five defendants were arrested in connection with their participation in the massive cyberheist campaign that inflicted $45 million in losses on the global financial system in a matter of hours in early 2013.  Defendants Anthony Diaz, Saul Franjul, Saul Genao, Jaindhi Polanco and Jose Angeley Valerio were members of the New York-based cell of the international cybercrime organization, which used sophisticated intrusion techniques to hack into the systems of financial institutions, steal prepaid debit card data, and make fraudulent ATM withdrawals on a global scale.  Newly seized photographic evidence reveals that the defendants sent the lion’s share of the proceeds to the organization’s leaders – including $800,000 of criminal cash proceeds sent in luggage and transported to Florida by bus for delivery to a cyberheist organizer.  

The superseding indictment unsealed today charges the five arrested defendants with conspiracy to commit access device fraud.  They will be arraigned at 2 p.m. today before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy at the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York.1   Three of the original defendants, Jael Collado, Jose Familia Reyes and Chung Yu-Holguin, are also charged in the superseding indictment unsealed today.  Four other defendants, Joan Luis Minier Lara, Evan Jose Peña, Elvis Rodriguez and Emir Yasser Yeje have pleaded guilty to charges resulting from the cyberheist.  The eighth original defendant, Alberto Yusi Lajud-Peña, is deceased.

The charges and arrests were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Steven G. Hughes, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, New York Field Office.

“As alleged, just a few months ago, after exploiting cyber-weaknesses in the financial system to steal millions from ATMs, these defendants were packing bags to the brim with stolen cash, destined for the cybercriminal organizers of these attacks,” stated United States Attorney Lynch.  “Today, we have sent them packing once again – but this time, to jail.  We will not relent until all those responsible for these financially devastating cybercrimes are brought to justice.”

“This case is another example of the ability of cybercriminals to inflict significant damage to world financial systems.  This investigation and the resulting indictments should serve as a reminder to cybercriminals that law enforcement will continue to utilize cutting-edge investigative techniques, traditional tactics and hard work to thwart complex transnational cybercriminal activity.  We are grateful to our many law enforcement partners for their assistance in this investigation, in particular the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York, DHS Homeland Security Investigations, and our foreign law enforcement partners,” stated Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Hughes.

As alleged in the superseding indictment and other court filings, the defendants arrested today and their co-conspirators in this case engaged in cyberattacks known in the cyber underworld as “Unlimited Operations” – through its hacking “operation,” the cybercrime organization can access virtually “unlimited” criminal proceeds. 

Defendants Anthony Diaz, Saul Franjul, Saul Genao, Jaindhi Polanco and Jose Angeley Valerio allegedly participated in two recent “Unlimited Operations” of staggering size.  During the first operation, on December 22, 2012, hackers penetrated a credit card processor’s computer network, compromised prepaid debit card accounts of the National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah PSC, also known as RAKBANK, and operated a coordinated ATM withdrawal campaign.  In total, more than 4,500 ATM transactions were conducted in approximately 20 countries around the world, resulting in approximately $5 million in losses.  In the second and even more damaging Unlimited Operation, which occurred on February 19-20, 2013, the hackers compromised prepaid debit card accounts associated with Bank Muscat, and operated a coordinated ATM withdrawal campaign. Over the course of approximately 10 hours, cybercells in 24 countries withdrew about $40 million from ATMs. 

As alleged, as part of the RAKBANK and Bank Muscat campaigns, Diaz, Franjul, Genao, Polanco and Valerio operated the New York cell of “cashers,” who fanned out across the New York area to make thousands of withdrawals from ATMs.   During the two operations, over the course of a few hours, the defendants and their co-conspirators withdrew approximately $2.8 million at over 140 different ATM locations in New York City.  The defendants sent the bulk of the cash proceeds back to the organizers of the attacks. 

As alleged in court filings and captured in a photograph seized from a conspirator’s iPhone, on March 2, 2013, just days after the Bank Muscat Unlimited Operation, defendant Franjul packed approximately $800,000 in cash into luggage destined for the late Alberto Yusi Lajud-Peña, who was then in Miami.  Franjul’s co-conspirators took the cash-filled luggage on a bus to Florida, where they gave the cash to Lajud-Peña, who later fled to the Dominican Republic.  New York cell members also used the funds to celebrate at high-priced nightclubs and go on shopping sprees for luxury goods, such as expensive watches and cars, many of which have been seized in the course of this investigation.

In announcing the arrests and charges, United States Attorney Lynch praised the extraordinary efforts of the Secret Service in responding to these attacks and investigating both the complex network intrusions that occurred overseas and the criminal activity occurring locally, and also expressed gratitude to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New York, and the Yonkers Police Department for their assistance in this investigation.  Ms. Lynch also thanked MasterCard, RAKBANK and Bank Muscat for their cooperation with this investigation. 

Diaz, Franjul, Genao, Polanco and Valerio face up to 7.5 years in prison on the charge of access device fraud conspiracy, as well as forfeiture and a fine of up to $250,000.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Cristina Posa, Hilary Jager, David Sarratt, and Brian Morris.

The Defendants:                                           

ANTHONY DIAZ
Age: 24
Residence: Yonkers, New York

SAUL FRANJUL, also known as “Conejo”
Age: 23
Residence: Yonkers, New York

SAUL GENAO, also known as “Cocolito” and “Ely Genao”
Age: 24
Residence: Yonkers, New York

JAINDHI POLANCO
Age: 29
Residence: Yonkers, New York

JOSE ANGELEY VALERIO, also known as “Zikkytakki”
Age: 25
Residence: Yonkers, New York

 

 

_____________________________

1 A sixth defendant, Franklyn Ferreira, is a fugitive from justice.  The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants, including those charged today, are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 


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