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Woman Sentenced in Global Computer Hacking Scheme

By - Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution | B 22 comments

This woman was busted for leading one of the cash crews responsible for illegally withdrawing over $9M from ATMs worldwide.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a Chicago woman was sentenced on Tuesday to two years and six months in federal prison for helping steal more than $9 million USD back in 2008. She was also ordered to spend five years on supervised release following prison, and pay $89,120.25 in restitution

According to federal prosecutors, 45-year-old Sonya Martin was the member of a cell in what they claim was "one of the most sophisticated and organized computer hacking and ATM cashout schemes ever." Her Chicago cell was one of many "cashing crews" that drained millions of dollars from roughly 2,100 ATMs in 280 cities across the globe.

U.S. District Court officials claim that a group of hackers obtained unauthorized access to Atlanta-based payment processing company WorldPay U.S. Inc. back in November 2008. WorldPay handles companies who use payroll debit cards to pay their employees that in turn use these cards to make purchases or withdraw their salaries from an ATM. The hackers allegedly used "sophisticated techniques" to compromise the data encryption used to protect customer data on these cards.

Once they gained access to these accounts, the hackers fraudulently raised the balances and ATM withdrawal limits. They then handed over 44 debit card account numbers and their associated PIN numbers to the cashing crew cells to cash out the accounts. Martin's cell and others located around the world -- including United States, Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Italy, Hong Kong, Japan, and Canada -- drained those accounts in less than 12 hours on November 8, 2008.

Officials said Sonya Martin worked with one of the lead cashers and supervised a cashing crew in Chicago. This cell withdrew approximately $80.000 from various Chicago area ATMs using counterfeit debits cards she manufactured using a payroll card number and PIN code.

"While this was a complex, internationally coordinated crime with many different players and components, it would not have gotten very far without the cashing crews [like the one Martin worked with]," said Brian D. Lamkin, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.

Martin, who primarily lives in Nigeria, was caught in March 2011 trying to catch a flight to London at the Kennedy International Airport in New York. U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones sentenced Sonya Martin for conspiracy to commit wire fraud on August 21.

"This case demonstrates the growing expertise and reach of law enforcement in combating international cyber criminals," said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. "We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners throughout the world to investigate and prosecute those who defraud victims in the United States, wherever the perpetrators may be."


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  • 10 Hide
    derekullo , August 23, 2012 8:37 AM
    9,000,000 - 89,000 = 8911000 / 2 years = 4,455,500 per year ... Not a bad haul for 2 years in prison. If i had 9 million dollars waiting for me when i got out. I would spend every day of that 2 years in prison with a smile on my face.
  • 10 Hide
    kcorp2003 , August 23, 2012 8:45 AM
    @derekullo i think that money probably got split up with the crew. And the FBI probably seize everything she has.
Other Comments
  • 10 Hide
    derekullo , August 23, 2012 8:37 AM
    9,000,000 - 89,000 = 8911000 / 2 years = 4,455,500 per year ... Not a bad haul for 2 years in prison. If i had 9 million dollars waiting for me when i got out. I would spend every day of that 2 years in prison with a smile on my face.
  • 3 Hide
    viper666 , August 23, 2012 8:41 AM
    no photo of the woman :( 
  • 10 Hide
    kcorp2003 , August 23, 2012 8:45 AM
    @derekullo i think that money probably got split up with the crew. And the FBI probably seize everything she has.
  • -4 Hide
    geeksinhere23 , August 23, 2012 8:57 AM
    get pay 9 millions to stay in jail for 2 years. I like it.
  • 2 Hide
    sa1nt , August 23, 2012 9:31 AM
    viper666no photo of the woman

    Yes , was she hot !?
    Because now we can't know is the sentence too long or too short.
  • 4 Hide
    nieur , August 23, 2012 10:32 AM
    sentence is too short looking at the crime
  • -2 Hide
    altriss , August 23, 2012 11:15 AM
    BAnj got what they deserve!
    % years ago an english researcher found a weakness into Credit Card system, then he called the banks to alert them. All he got was trial and then jail to make him shut up. Just because it would have been too expensive to change the whole system...
    Not a surprise people found the weakness and use it.
    By the way even if FBI is powerfull, if the women put the money in some foreign bank account, the 9 millions $ should still be there.

    nieursentence is too short looking at the crime

    Honestly I don't think so, she got 9 millions, tell me how much banks lost in subprime crisis? Billions if I recall right, and they didn't pay anything for that.
    In fact that sentence is pretty hard relatively speaking...
  • -1 Hide
    BringMeAnother , August 23, 2012 11:41 AM
    sa1ntYes , was she hot !?Because now we can't know is the sentence too long or too short.

    Haha, the guy was joking. No need to give him a thumb down for that.
  • 2 Hide
    lamorpa , August 23, 2012 12:07 PM
    altriss...years ago an english researcher found a weakness into Credit Card system, then he called the banks to alert them. All he got was trial and then jail to make him shut up. ...

    You do know this is a urban legend, right?
  • 0 Hide
    igot1forya , August 23, 2012 1:22 PM
    geeksinhere23get pay 9 millions to stay in jail for 2 years. I like it.

    Actually the article states that her crew was responsible for only $80,000 stolen in Chicago. So in reality, she pays back $89,120.25 in restitution's and gets 2 and a half years in prison. Seems fare to me as it was a net loss by all accounts.
  • 1 Hide
    kniped , August 23, 2012 2:36 PM
    Quote:
    Martin, who primarily lives in Nigeria...

    A Nigerian stealing money? Unpossible.
  • 1 Hide
    freggo , August 23, 2012 2:56 PM
    That's what is wrong with the system.... all she gets is 2 years !
    This is not some 'petty theft'; but very organized crime.
    She should get at least 20 years !
  • -1 Hide
    freggo , August 23, 2012 2:58 PM
    idroid+1 to this woman, if i had the ability to hack ATM to withdraw all the money i want i'd do it without even thinking about it!



    Thanks for making my point. 2 years is not even remotely enough.
    I'd put you away for 20+; also I'd be open to a more drastic solution :-)
  • -5 Hide
    master_chen , August 23, 2012 3:58 PM
    Is it just me, or does the article's title sound REALLY sexist?
    Because it means that "female" hacker got sentenced, thus it makes a point on that it's a "woman" in the first place, and not that it's a hacker, clearly implying that "female hacker" is something outrageous, rare and unlikely. Very chauvinistic and sexist, IMHO.
  • 0 Hide
    cookoy , August 23, 2012 4:48 PM
    She's just part of the cashing crew, going from ATM to ATM to withdraw cash, and not the real hacker brains. Not much different from the mistresses of the filthy rich DOMs.
  • 1 Hide
    buckcm , August 23, 2012 4:53 PM
    master_chenIs it just me, or does the article's title sound REALLY sexist?Because it means that "female" hacker got sentenced, thus it makes a point on that it's a "woman" in the first place, and not that it's a hacker, clearly implying that "female hacker" is something outrageous, rare and unlikely. Very chauvinistic and sexist, IMHO.

    In your feminist opinion.
  • 3 Hide
    gm0n3y , August 23, 2012 5:48 PM
    Did people not read the article? She didn't get anywhere near $9 million. The cell she was working with racked in a whole $80k. So even if she managed to keep half of that ($40k), she ended up paying almost $90k in fines to the court. So she is PAYING at least $50k to be in prison for 2 years. Come on people, READ THE ARTICLE BEFORE COMMENTING!
  • 1 Hide
    buckcm , August 23, 2012 6:05 PM
    gm0n3yDid people not read the article? She didn't get anywhere near $9 million. The cell she was working with racked in a whole $80k. So even if she managed to keep half of that ($40k), she ended up paying almost $90k in fines to the court. So she is PAYING at least $50k to be in prison for 2 years. Come on people, READ THE ARTICLE BEFORE COMMENTING!

    Definitely not worth it. Having a felony on her record is going to hurt a lot in 2 years when she looks for work.
  • 0 Hide
    joebob2000 , August 23, 2012 6:31 PM
    buckcmDefinitely not worth it. Having a felony on her record is going to hurt a lot in 2 years when she looks for work.


    Looking for work? Her skank immigrant ass better get deported after she gets out of the slammer. If I were the judge, deportation to Nigeria and revocation of any international passport would have been the sentence. Let her rot with the rest of the cutthroat thieves over there. She had the opportunity to come to the US and make a different life for herself based on honesty and hard work, and she decided to steal her way to the top instead.

    Before anyone calls me a racist, I am perfectly welcoming of different peoples and cultures to the US, but if you want to use your chance at opportunity on this nonsense I have NO mercy for you and you have NO place in my country.
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