London police say they have foiled an attempt by a criminal syndicate to steal £220 million from the London offices of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. They aimed to gain access to the computer systems of the Japanese bank and transfer money electronically to ten bank accounts around the world.
Police in Israel arrested a man whose business account had been the intended recipient of some of the money. Takashi Morita, head of communications at Sumitomo in Tokyo, said that the company had not suffered any financial loss as a consequence of the robbery attempt. “The case is still in the middle of investigation so we cannot comment further,” he said. “We have undertaken various measures in terms of security and we have not suffered any financial damage.”
According to the Financial Times, officers from the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit have been investigating the theft attempt since October, after the gang gained access to Sumitomo’s computer systems and tried to transfer the money. The plan was uncovered before any money was lost.
The hackers managed to infiltrate the system with keylogging software that would have enabled them to track every button pressed on computer keyboards. From that they could learn account numbers, passwords and other sensitive information.
Israeli police said the man was arrested after an attempt to transfer £13.9 million into an account there “by deception in a sophisticated manner”. He is charged with money laundering and deception.
London police warned financial institutions about the threat late last year.