In 2018, some men from the Indian state of Maharashtra thought they had an opportunity to act in a movie. But in reality they were tricked into collecting money for an ambitious bank robbery scheme. On a weekend in 2018, there was an attack on the Pune-headquartered Cosmos Co-operative Bank. Around noon on Saturday, staff at the bank's head office suddenly started receiving messages full of warnings.
The messages were from Visa, a US card payment company, warning that large withdrawals using Cosmos Bank cards at various ATMs looked suspicious. But when Cosmos staff checked the bank's systems, they found no unusual transactions. About half an hour later, Cosmos Bank authorized Visa to block transactions from all its cards, following a security policy. But there was a heavy price to pay for the delay in adopting that measure.
The next day, Visa shared a full list of suspicious transactions with Cosmos headquarters: about 12,000 separate withdrawals were seen from various ATMs around the world. The bank had already lost about 14 million US dollars. It was an audacious crime on a very large scale, very poorly coordinated.
The robbers looted ATMs in 28 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and Russia. This extraordinary criminal event took place in just two hours and 13 minutes. Investigators eventually found that the heist was linked to a group of suspected hackers who had previously pulled off similar heists under the direction of the North Korean state.