NEW YORK (AP) – A Turkish man accused of masterminding a series of cyberattacks that resulted in a loss of more than $55 million to the global financial system was extradited to the United States and pleaded not guilty Wednesday in a New York courtroom.
Ercan Findikoglu, 33, was arrested at a German airport in 2013 and fought extradition for more than 18 months. A German court initially ruled to block his return to New York, but he was returned to the United States on Tuesday to face a criminal indictment.
During the brief hearing Wednesday, Findikoglu was ordered held without bail. He is due back in court next month. His attorney, Chris Madiou, had no comment afterward.
Prosecutors said Findikoglu, who went by the aliases “Segate” and “Predator,” used “sophisticated intrusion techniques” to hack into the computer systems of three payment processing companies. He then allegedly accessed prepaid debit card accounts, inflating the balances and removing their withdrawal limits, prosecutors said. Authorities believe he then sold the stolen information to “cashing crews” who would re-encode the data onto new cards and go to ATM machines to withdraw large sums of cash before the companies discovered the intrusion.
All of the attacks occurred between 2011 and 2013 and, in one, he targeted cards that were sent to disaster victims by the American Red Cross, according to prosecutors.
The indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn on Wednesday detailed three attacks. They included a $10 million loss in February 2011 and a $5 million attack in December 2012.
The third operation, in December 2013, lasted just 10 hours but was the largest, prosecutors said. The group allegedly conducted more than 36,000 withdrawals that totaled $40 million, according to federal authorities.
The indictment against Findikoglu includes counts of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, bank and wire fraud, and money laundering. Several other people have been charged in related cases.
For his alleged assistance, Findikoglu was paid by wire transfer or delivered cash in person. In one instance, a member of the so-called “cashing crew” brought $100,000 to one of Findikoglu’s acquaintances in Romania, authorities said. When a member of the “cashing crew” was arrested, Findikoglu told others involved in the scheme to destroy evidence of their involvement, according to prosecutors.
Federal officials have seized cars, watches and other luxury goods from people charged in the case, but said Wednesday that much of the stolen cash remains unaccounted for.