Threat Management

Man pleads guilty to bank fraud, 48-hour global operation netted $14 million


A 27-year-old man – arrested in Germany and extradited to the United States in 2012 – pleaded guilty to bank fraud on Friday for his role in a roughly 48-hour operation in 2011 that resulted in criminals withdrawing about $14 million from ATMs in nearly 20 countries.

Qendrim Dobruna – who operated under aliases such as “cL0sEd” and “cL0z,” according to complaint filed in 2011 – will be sentenced on Oct. 24 and faces as many as 30 years in prison, as well as a maximum fine of $1 million, according to a Friday Department of Justice press release.

As part of a plea deal, Dobruna will be sentenced to nine years in prison, according to a Friday CBS report. Dobruna originally entered a not guilty plea, but the hacker withdrew it on Friday, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York.

Across about two days at the end of February 2011, Dobruna, along with others involved in the scheme, hacked into the computer systems of JPMorgan Chase, which processed debit card transactions for the American Red Cross, according to an indictment filed in 2012.

The hackers lifted the withdrawal limits on the American Red Cross accounts, as well as security features enabled to notify victims of these kinds of attacks, and then distributed the banking information to individuals around the world who encoded the data onto magnetic stripe cards.

Casher cells located throughout roughly 18 countries then used the fraudulent disaster relief prepaid cards in more than 15,000 ATM transactions, resulting in about $14 million in global financial losses, according to the release.

Dobruna participated in a scheme to defraud “JPMorgan Chase, and to obtain moneys, funds, credits and other property owned by, and under the custody and control of said financial institution, by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises,” according to the indictment.

The guilty plea came following a lengthy investigation by the Secret Service, which was aided by the Department of Justice and INTERPOL, as well as authorities in Germany.

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