A Chicago woman with roots in Nigeria was sentenced this week to 30 months in prison for playing a key role in extracting cash from the bank accounts of individuals whose prepaid payroll information was stolen in a massive 2008 breach.
Sonya Martin, 45, was part of a gang that evaded encryption on the network of Atlanta-based RBS WorldPay’s U.S. payment processing division to compromise prepaid payroll debit cards, prosecutors have said. The perpetrators then raised the limits on the accounts, created 44 counterfeit cards and hired a group of “cashers” to use the cards to withdraw more than $9 million in less than 12 hours from 2,100 cash machines across 280 cities worldwide.
In total, about 1.5 million people were affected by the incident at RBS WorldPay, which now is known as WorldPay.
According to an FBI news release on Tuesday, Martin was a leader in the Chicago-based cashing contingent.
“Martin was given a payroll card number and PIN code, and manufactured counterfeit debt cards based on that information,” the FBI said. “She gave the counterfeit cards to ‘underlings’ she recruited and supervised, and together they fraudulently withdrew approximately $80,000.”
The money was taken out from a number of ATMs in Chicago during the pre-dawn hours of Nov. 8, 2008. The other cashers around the globe committed their heists during those same hours.
Martin was eventually arrested in March 2011, as she was set to board a flight from New York’s Kennedy Airport to London.