NEWS

Police catch e-banking thieves

An unassuming farmhouse outside Volos served as the headquarters of a Greek-Ukrainian gang that used electronic spyware to steal large sums from bank account-holders who conducted transactions over the Internet, police said yesterday. Following a complaint from Piraeus Bank, the Attica police electronic crime squad managed to trace the senders of e-mails rigged with malicious software that can record the activities of other computers to a farmhouse in Almyros, some 35 kilometers (21 miles) southwest of Volos. Police raided the building, arresting a Ukrainian woman who was allegedly in the act of transferring 15,000 euros belonging to an unsuspecting bank customer to an account in Ukraine, and her Greek boyfriend. The suspects allegedly used malicious software known as a Trojan Horse – which surreptitiously installs itself in computers through e-mail and registers the sites their users visit, as well as the keystrokes they tap in – that they had obtained from accomplices in the Ukraine to observe the activities of bank clients who controlled their accounts through e-mail. The spyware recorded people’s passwords, thus affording the gang access to their accounts. Manolis Sfakianakis, head of the electronic crime squad, said it was the first such case in Greece. The squad stepped in after Piraeus Bank notified police that 34,000 euros had been moved out of a client’s account. Sfakianakis said the gang had not managed to hack into the bank’s website, but had simply used data provided by the spyware. Meanwhile, a Thessaloniki court yesterday gave 13-year sentences to three Bulgarians for stealing up to a million euros from bank accounts through ATMs. The three used scanners to copy cashcard data, and tiny cameras to record PIN numbers.