NJ: Hackers Steal $240K From Mahwah Businessman’s Bank Account

Sean Adams reports:

In Mahwah, hackers set their sights on a local businessman and obtained enough of his personal information to convince his bank to wire $240,000 overseas.

Police Chief James Batelli said they even hijacked the man’s phone number, so when the bank called to verify “That is call forwarded to Brussels and the person on that end answers all the proper security questions, which was social security numbers, mother’s maiden name, hospital they were born in; and the bank thinks they’re talking to the person authorized to allow that transfer to go through.”


Okay, so the bank attempted to verify with a phone call, but the clever hackers subverted that authorization method. Is the bank responsible for the loss and replacing the funds in the customer’s account or not?


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3 comments to “NJ: Hackers Steal $240K From Mahwah Businessman’s Bank Account”

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  1. markbyrn - May 30, 2015

    So this incredible scenario doesn’t raise an eyebrow of suspicion to you? Like perhaps an extremely close associate or family member of the businessman who could provide the “hackers” all this personal data plus set up call forwarding on his personal phone. I’m sure if the bank had asked the “hackers” for a thumbprint and signature, they probably could have provided that too. So what more could the bank have done if the “hackers” had every conceivable piece of identify information. If not for the phone being set to call forward to Belgium, I would have suspected that a rogue bank person did it

    • Dissent - May 30, 2015

      I asked the same question you did – but on Twitter – what else could the bank have done? I wasn’t blaming them in my post.
      They called to verify and the person knew the answers to the security questions, so is it fair to blame the bank?

      I didn’t think of a family member, though, to be honest. I thought about the recent Get Transcripts breach and how those attackers also knew answers to security questions that allowed them past the first screen. I’m wondering if this is just another application of the same stolen data trove.

  2. IA Eng - June 10, 2015

    This is a sad ordeal, but one that Brian Krebs writes about on occasion. Financial institutions typically offer some sort of trusted authentication.

    Its a targeted attack. The businessman more than likely had password reuse in his historical path, and the hackers got a hold of a valid username and password combination, probably with the majority of his PII that is floating around out there.

    OK, if you’re a businessman with a hefty bank account, and you receive some breach letters in the mail, wouldn’t you take some precautionary steps to prevent any sort of account hijacking?

    This seems sort of funky – the hijacking of the phone is weird in itself – the businessman isn’t concerned or even aware that no incoming calls were present? Or do they mean the phone number associated with the account was changed?

    Who says you HAVE to answer security questions correctly ? You can have random bogus answers in the fields. Who cares what the answers are – as long as you can answer the questions correctly. It’s not a scored test, nor are the answers tied back to your credit report. So, LIE. Then, by doing so, it really secures your challenge and response questions – only you will know the answers – until some one breaches the site and steals that information as well.

    I couldn’t get to the article on CBS. The popup ad jacked up the article and darkened the main article. But anyways, once someone goes as far as the criminals did to this person’s account – and phone – this person was CLUELESS to phone hijacking and changes to his account. He like many others probably opted out of two factor authentication, never requested a maximum limit be placed on any transaction, nor requested that no wire transfers be allowed out of country. IF it was caught in time, some times these processes can be reversed. But it requires a diligent eye.

    Lets just say, I think something is lacking when it comes to business practices.

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