India’s City Union Bank announced this week that “cyber criminals” hacked into its systems and transferred close to $2 million through three unauthorized transactions to lenders overseas via its SWIFT financial platform. This announcement came soon after the bank disclosed on Saturday that it had discovered the three “fraudulent remittances”, which were sent via correspondent banks to accounts in Dubai, Turkey and China.
CEO N. Kamakodi called it a “conspiracy” involving multiple countries, adding that the lender was still investigating how it had happened. “This is basically a cyber attack by international cyber criminals,” he told Reuters in a phone interview.
Kamakodi added they saw no evidence of any internal staff involvement so far, but said: “We are very clear now the account holders are part of this conspiracy.”
The bank listed details of the three transfers as:
• The first one worth $500,000. It was sent through a Standard Chartered Bank account in New York to a Dubai-based lender.
• The second transfer of 300,000 euros ($372,150) was routed through a Standard Chartered Bank account in Frankfurt to a Turkish account. This transfer was, however, blocked before completion by the Turkish lender.
• The third totaling $1 million was sent through a Bank of America account in New York to a China-based bank, which Kamakodi identified on Sunday as Zhejiang Rural Credit Cooperative Union in Hangzhou, China.
Kamakodi said that the bank is working in tandem with Indian authorities to help affected countries investigate what happened. He added that City Union is strengthening its internal monitoring systems. “The volume of unsanctioned operations as a result of this attack amounted to 339.5 million roubles,” he said.
This disclosure came at a time when the country is fighting various fraudulent schemes, such as Nirav Modi and the Punjab National Bank’s $1.7 Billion fraud and Vikram Kothari’s $57 Billion fraud against Allahabad Bank, Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Indian Overseas Bank, and Union Bank of India.
“When a case of potential fraud is reported to us, we offer our assistance to the affected user to help secure its environment,” said Natasha de Teran, a spokeswoman for SWIFT, whose transfer system is used to transfer thousands of dollars each day.