Key Nigerian conspirator arrested in Mahesh bank hacking case

The accused had hacked into the bank’s servers, and money was withdrawn from a staggering 938 ATMs from across the country.

Hyderabad: One more key conspirator was arrested by the city police here for hacking into the servers of the A. P Mahesh Co-operative Urban Bank and fraudulently transferring Rs 12.48 crore. The crime took place in January this year.

The main Nigerian conspirator has been identified as Ikpa Stephen Orji along with another Nigerian, who goes by his nickname ‘Capital’, hacked into the servers of Mahesh Bank on January 24 and transferred Rs 12.48 crores into four bank accounts. Both of them had come to the city and visited a mall at Kukatpally where they sat and completed their operation, said Hyderabad police commissioner C V Anand at a press conference on Wednesday.

More importantly, due to the police’s timely action, another Rs 2.08 crore was saved while another Rs 1.08 crore was returned to the bank due to incorrect beneficiary details. “The fraudsters managed to siphon-off around Rs 9.48 crore,” Anand stated.

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The commissioner stated that the money was again transferred from the four accounts to 115 different accounts and again to another 398 accounts. A part of the money was withdrawn from a staggering 938 ATMs from across the country.

Explaining how the hackers managed to get into the servers, Anand said that fraudsters first had opened seven bank accounts with Mahesh Bank in 2021.

In November 2021, they had sent around 200 phishing mails and two of the employees had clicked on it. That allowed the hackers to successfully establishing a network with the bank’s computer systems. Afterwards, the hackers sent a Key Logger Software and was monitoring their work, through which they collected all the details and used it to hack into the account.

“On January 24, when it was a public holiday, the hackers logged into the network and altered the bank balance in four of the seven accounts they had opened in 2021. The amount was transferred to the accounts and later to multiple accounts,” said CV Anand.

After the scam broke out, teams were sent to Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and other North East states to track the hackers.

The handlers and the account holders were paid a commission of 10 per cent by the fraudsters, while the remaining amount was sent to foreign countries through hawala and crypto currency, said Anand.

The commissioner said that the police made a Mumbai based company ‘Infra Soft Company’ as co-conspirator and also the Mahesh Bank. “We sought certain information from Infra Soft Company but they failed to furnish it, which indicates they are hand in glove with the fraudsters,” he said.

The police will be writing to the Interpol and seek its assistance to nab Capital who ever it suspects is hiding in Nigeria. He said that the police will soon hold a meeting with officials of various banks and explain to them the need to take precautions to prevent hacking of accounts.

Anand added that the banks should have intrusion detection systems and intrusion prevention systems to foil attempts to prevent and detect vulnerability exploits..

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