Banco del Austro, an Ecuador-based bank, has been named as a potential third victim of hackers using SWIFT systems to gain access to cash.

In lawsuit filed in January 2015 and reported on by the Wall Street Journal, Banco del Austro blamed Wells Fargo & Co for failing to identify “red flags” in several transactions occurring at the bank.

Around $12 million was stolen by the cybercriminals, with much of it being transferred to banks in Hong Kong. Banco del Austro reported that it had managed to recover just $2.8 million.

More of the cash was transferred to Los Angeles and Dubai-based banks, which received $1.5 million and $1 million respectively.

The modus operandi of the hackers is very similar to those who stole $81m from Bangladesh Bank earlier in the year. According to a filing on behalf of Banco del Austro: “For each of the unauthorized transfers, an unauthorized user, using the Internet, hacked into BDA’s computer system after hours using malware that allowed remote access, logged onto the Swift network purporting to be BDA, and redirected transactions to new beneficiaries with new amounts.”

SWIFT has claimed to have been in the dark about the hack, having not been informed by any party in the lawsuit.

“We need to be informed by customers of such frauds if they relate to our products and services, so that we can inform and support the wider community,” says Natasha de Teran, a spokesperson for SWIFT.

“We have been in touch with the bank concerned to get more information and are reminding customers of their obligations to share such information with us,”

By Alex Hamilton

by Alex Hamilton
Alex is Senior Reporter at IBS Intelligence, follow him on Twitter or contact him at: alexanderh@ibsintelligence.com
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