The ABS-CBN News asked Sen. Serge Osmena after the first Senate Hearing of the laundered $81 million dollars that got through the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) from Bangladesh if the money can still be recovered. Serge Osmena chuckled. He said it got sucked already by the wormhole.
A “keylogger” malware, a piece of software that mimics and record keystrokes, and self-destruct at will, in cahoots with Bangladesh Central Bank (BCB) officials, the hackers used this software to penetrate the BCB’s system.
As the hackers passed the standard authentic protocol, blessed with a time zone difference of New York, Bangladesh and the Philippines, and gifted with the bank off work in Bangladesh and the holiday in the Philippines – on February 4, the hackers, through SWIFT, (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) effected the transfer of $81 million from (BCB) Bangladesh to Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Then in turn wired to the RCBC of the Philippines. So far, this is one of the biggest bank heists in the world.
This cybercrime of money laundering has all the ingredients of a good caper movie.
It was neatly planned. The hackers, supplied with information from the malware, studied the banks transactions and protocols. They learned, for example, which consulting firms Bangladesh uses for their country’s development to settle their obligation. Therefore, the hacker could use that as a pseudo recipient of funds.
On February 4, the hackers, through SWIFT, (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) effected the transfer of $81 million from Bangladesh to Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Then in turn wired to the RCBC of the Philippine. Upon putting the stolen money to four fictitious bank accounts, the malware self-destructs to hide the identities of the BCB insider.
The hackers could have known that the AMLC, the government’s investigative body engaged in prosecuting money launderer is hampered by the bank secrecy laws. That would be a good diversion. And also, this invoking right of self-incriminations, this helps, too. And they know that Casinos are not covered by AMLC. Everything seemed tied up together for them to get away with their humongous loot.
The hackers recruited an assemblage of characters whose contribution to the execution of converting wired money to the actual cash is essential. With the complicit participation of BCB’s insider to the personages of the RCBC, to the remittance company, PhilRem, to the fictitious bank account holder, and to the Pagcor Casino as a conduit, the hackers’ carted away monies of the millions impoverished people of Bangladesh.
It was clocked perfectly when the hackers executed their money laundering schemes. February 4, 5, and, 8, 2016, were crucial dates. It was Thursday, February 4 when the BCB’s SWIFT transfer to Federal Bank in New York the $81 dollars intended for RCBC of the Philippines. February 5, the BCB was closed, meanwhile, the RCBC saw the inward remittance and distributed it to the four fictitious beneficiaries. The Feds was alerted, however, of the $20 million remittances for Sri Lanka because of the spelling error of the beneficiary’s name. The Feds ordered a stop payment. On February 8, Monday, RCBC was closed for the Chinese New Year. It was also at this time the BCB sent the message to RCBC to stop payment. The payment intended for Sri Lanka was averted, but for the RCBC ones materialized. The $81 million dollars gone.
The succeeding events that followed, people saw that the hackers’ accomplices in the Philippines would just do the battle of “he said, she said” in the media, or at the Senate Hearing as supervised by their respective lawyers. Maybe among accomplices, they could strike a deal.
The most likely that would come out of this $81 million dollar heist would be that the Casinos would be placed under AMLC, too and that bank secrecy provision lifted with limitation.
Meanwhile, $81 million dollars, as Sen. Serge Osmena said, sucked up already by the wormhole. It was HACKED! As simple as that…
As they say in Filipino, “Maghabol na kayo sa Tambol Mayor”.
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