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India's City Union Bank Hit by Cyber Heist via SWIFT Payments System

India's City Union Bank Hit by Cyber Heist via SWIFT Payments System

Over the weekend, India's City Union Bank said "cybercriminals" hacked its systems and transferred almost $2m through three "fraudulent remittances" via Swift to accounts in Dubai, Turkey and China.

The disclosure comes close on the heels of Punjab National Bank last week reporting being hit by a $1.77 billion fraud, raising concerns about impact on banking sector.

On February 7, the bank had found that three fraudulent remittances, not initiated by it, had gone through its SWIFT systems to its correspondence banks.

"This is basically a cyber attack by global cyber criminals", he told Reuters in a phone interview. City Union, a small private lender based in south India, said the three money transfer instructions were sent via correspondent banks to accounts in Dubai, Turkey and China.

Since then, countless banks have been attacked in a similar manner, including Russian state bank Globex, and financial institutions in Vietnam and Ecuador.

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The second transfer (of 300,000 euros) was routed through a Standard Chartered Bank account in Frankfurt to a Turkish bank and was blocked by the latter before the criminals had a chance to collect the money. This transfer was for US$1 million and was sent through an account in the Bank of America.

The members of the committee are, Bharat Doshi (Member, Central Board of Directors, RBI), S Raman (former CMD, Canara Bank and former Whole-Time Member, SEBI); and Nandkumar Saravade, (Chief Executive Officer, Reserve Bank Information Technology). The hackers stole the money from Bangladesh Bank's account at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY using fraudulent orders on SWIFT.

"It was basically cyber hacking".

Amid the multi-agency probe into India's biggest banking scam, RBI on Tuesday said it had "confidentially" cautioned banks thrice since August 2016 on the risks arising from malicious use of SWIFT system, and has chose to set up a panel to look into the rising incidence of frauds.

In 2016, the hacker stole money from Bangladesh's central bank's account at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY using fraudulent orders on SWIFT. The Indian Consulate in Instanbul is now working to help repatriate that amount.


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