Taiwan ATM Fraud Case Suspects Arrested

Taiwan ATM Fraud Case Suspects Arrested
Photo Credit:Reuters/ 達志影像

What you need to know

The biggest ATM fraud case in Taiwan history was solved within seven days, leading to three arrests. According to some, police working overtime explains the quick results.

Three foreign suspects in an unprecedented ATM fraud case in Taiwan were arrested on Sunday in an investigation that points to involvement of a large criminal organization.

On July 9 and 10, 40 ATMs of the First Commercial Bank of Taiwan, one of the largest banks in Taiwan with more than 160 branches, were hacked and around NT$83 million (US$2.6 million) vanished without any withdrawal record.

Police found that the criminals used malware to hack the ATMs without pressing a button on them. The Investigation Bureau under the Ministry of Justice took over the investigation, and immediately sought to establish how the malware, “cngdisp.exe” and “cngdisp_new.exe,” were planted into the ATMs.

The three arrested suspects, Latvian Andrejs Peregudovs, Romanian Colibaba Mihail, and Moldovan Niklae Penkov, were all part of a large criminal organization. According to the investigation, a total of 16 criminals were involved, 13 of them manipulated the ATM system abroad after leaving Taiwan while the remaining three were in charge of withdrawing the money during the night of July 10.

Seven days of investigation

On July 17, police officer Song Jun-liang (宋俊良), who was off-duty at the time, spotted Andrejs Peregudovs in Yilan and immediately reported his location to the police, which became the key to cracking the case. Police later arrested the two other suspects at a hotel, retrieving more than NT$60 million in cash. So far, there is no indication that Taiwanese nationals were involved in the case.

Police said the gang allocated their work well. However, the criminals did not speak fluent Mandarin so they showed taxi drivers routes to the ATMs, making it easier to track them down.

It only took police seven days to solve the crime after the case was first reported on July 11.

Since 2013, 50 banks in Russia have been attacked by fraud gangs. Similar cases also occurred in Japan and east European countries, leading to an estimated NT$30 billion in losses.

Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said it was rare for a complex case such as this one to be solved within such a short period of time. Lin said this made him proud of the law enforcement apparatus in Taiwan.

Overworked police

However, some argue that the picture is not as rosy as it seems. Taiwan Pigeons, a Facebook page dedicated to the well-being of police officers, said in a post that the remarkable results were acheived by overworked police.

In Taipei, all police officers are allowed to take a 12-hour leave after working for 12 hours. Junior officers pointed out that while there is a rotating shift system, the break hours are usually not fixed, especially when the number of cases is higher than expected. Therefore, most police officers extend their working hours to solve cases.

Siao Nong-yu (蕭農瑀), a member of the Taiwan Police Union, said people should not take the excessive work of the police for granted.

“If the police officers cannot deal with the problems in a healthy condition, people’s safety will become uncertain,” Siao said.

First Editor: J. Michael Cole
Second Editor: Olivia Yang