Arrests made over EUR13 million cyber heist at Bank of Valletta

Arrests made over EUR13 million cyber heist at Bank of Valletta

The UK's National Crime Agency has made three arrests in Belfast and London over a EUR13 million cyber heist at Malta's Bank of Valletta.

The Maltese bank was forced to shut down all Internet access, including branches and cashpoints, in February last year after detecting a cyber intrusion by criminals who used a strain of malware to make false international payments totaling $14.7 million to banks in Britain, the United States, the Czech Republic and Hong Kong.

A number of accounts were used to receive those funds, one of them was in the UK and was held in Belfast. Around £800,000 was transferred.

In the following hours a number of card payments and cash withdrawals totalling £340,000 were made from the account before a block could be put on them.

They included payments to high end stores such as Harrods and Selfridges in London, around £110,000 spent on Rolex watches at a store in London, and payments for a Jaguar and Audi A5 from a car dealership.

The Maltese authorities alerted the NCA and an investigation was launched into those behind the payments.

NCA Belfast branch commander David Cunningham says officers are still seeking a number of other suspects in connection with their investigation.

Says Cunningham: “Our 12-month investigation, carried out with the help of the Malta Police Force Economic Crime Unit, has focused on a number of individuals we suspect may have been involved in laundering money on behalf of the organised crime group who carried out the cyber-attack.

“This has led us to the arrests in London last week and Belfast today, and our investigation continues."

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