Money Stolen From Hacked ATMs In Samoa Was From Saudia Arabia Company Accounts

Chinese fraudsters face five year prison terms

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, July 26, 2017) – The money stolen from the Bank South Pacific ATM machines in Samoa by the two Chinese nationals Zhong Shuming and Yank Qingren now serving time at the Tafa’igata prison, belong to accounts held at the Al Rajhi Banking Investment Corporation in Saudi Arabia.

The pair was sentenced recently to five years in jail in Samoa, and the well planned hacking scheme was discussed in detail by sentencing Judge, Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma in his written decision.

“The distance between Samoa and Saudi Arabia is almost 16,000 kilometers apart,” said Judge Fepulea’i.

“The offence was activated in Samoa, and executed on accounts physically held in Saudi Arabia.

“The discovery that accounts had been hacked and stolen from a small Pacific island almost 16,000 kilometers away is unwarranted and the unnecessary trouble they had to go through to uncover that money,” said Fepulea’i.

He said that the customers’ bank details were obtained fraudulently to produce counterfeit bank cards that were used at the BSP ATMs multiple times to steal substantial funds from these overseas account.

He described the offence “a high degree of planning and premeditation, no ordinary theft and suspected that more individuals were involved and a great deal of planning before arriving in Samoa.”

He said the planning would have involved a fraudulent process of obtaining identities and bank details of overseas customers and manufacturing counterfeit cards using the information.

“It involved you traveling all the way from China with those counterfeit cards to an island where you have never been before and withdrew substantial funds over a three day period of your arrival,” said Fepulea’i.

“The plan was to withdraw and stack the money and tally it later with your accomplice who disappeared,” said Fepulea’i.

“You knew what you were doing and traveled the long distance to carry out your part in the scheme within a week then return, but were caught three days before returning,” said Fepulea’i.

Impact of the offending 
BSP confirmed a financial loss of $197,000.00 which is higher than the amount proven stolen at the trial.

More funds were spent on installing security guards in place following the arrests and a multi-million project installment has been activated to enhance security features for all cards and banks electronic devices.

“While the accounts are all held overseas, BSP had to refund all customers who had put in claims for loss of funds,” said Fepulea’i.

BSP also had to settle the overseas customers who held accounts in Saudi Arabia which the pair accessed and stole from here in Samoa, pursuant to an international agreement with Visa and Master Card companies.

“But most hurt is BSP’s loss of reputation,” said Fepulea’i.

The two men are from Jiangxi Province with a third party, named Zhong Huazhe. They left China on 21 August 2016 for Samoa transiting Fiji and their plan was to leave Samoa on the 28th August 2016.

From the 21 August to the 23rd August 2016, they made numerous cash withdrawals from all except one BSP ATM machine in Upolu using a counterfeit ATM card.

On the third day of withdraws, BSP was “alerted to the suspicious use of its ATMs by a number of cards which were captured by the ATM machines.”

“The cards were never before seen and are different from the normal ATM cards,” said Fepuleai.

On 24th August 2016, police were alerted and a search was conducted at a Chinese restaurant DIRCOS where the accused stayed, and police seized a number of items including fake ATM cards and card skimming devices.

Both were arrested on the spot as the third party had already skipped the country.

They faced 11 charges including 8 charges of theft of $70,550.

The accused are both married with families in China and one of them was a department manager. His wife sent a letter claiming that her husband did not have good education and can easily be influenced by his friends to do anything.

Fepulea’i found it hard to believe that a Department Manager did not know what he was letting himself into.

Both are now serving five year jail terms at the Tafa’igata prison.

Copyright © 2017 Talamua. All Rights Reserved

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