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Albanian hacker pleads guilty in US$14m global bank fraud

An Albanian hacker who was part of an international cyber-attack conspiracy that stole US$14 million from ATM machines all over the world pleaded guilty in New York to bank fraud.

NEW YORK: An Albanian hacker who was part of an international cyber-attack conspiracy that stole US$14 million from ATM machines all over the world pleaded guilty on Friday in New York to bank fraud.

Qendrim Dobruna, 27, was arrested in Germany and extradited to face justice for hacking into a US-based system used to process bank card payments for disaster relief to the American Red Cross.

The offense to which he pleaded guilty carries a maximum 30 years in prison and a US$1 million fine. He will be sentenced October 24.

More than 15,000 ATM transactions in 18 countries using the compromised prepaid card data resulted in US$14 million in financial losses worldwide, US prosecutors said.

After penetrating the system, the defendant and his associates "helped themselves to funds using prepaid debit cards meant for the needy and vulnerable," said Brooklyn prosecutor Loretta Lynch.

They hacked into American Red Cross prepaid card accounts, manipulated the balances and withdrawal limits, allowing associates across the world to take out almost limitless amounts of stolen cash from bank machines.

Dobruna was arrested in Stuttgart, Germany in March 2012 by German police then extradited to the United States.

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