Mexico’s central bank Governor Alejandro Diaz de Leon told journalists late Monday that the attack on the payment system was unprecedented and that he hoped that measures being taken would stop future incidents.
Hackers have managed to get away with hundreds of millions of pesos from leading Mexican banks by targeting the payment systems.
Reuters reported, on May 14- “Thieves siphoned hundreds of millions of pesos out of Mexican banks, including No. 2 Banorte, by creating phantom orders that wired funds to bogus accounts and promptly withdrew the money, two sources close to the government’s investigation said.” The report further said- ” Hackers sent hundreds of false orders to move amounts ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of pesos from banks including Banorte, to fake accounts in other banks, the sources said, and accomplices then emptied the accounts in cash withdrawals in dozens of branch offices.”
While some reports say that over 300 million pesos ($15.4 million) have been transferred by the thieves, some other reports, quoting the daily newspaper El Financiero (which has cited an anonymous source) put the figure at about 400 million pesos. Similarly, reports state that since some of the attempts to fraudulently transfer funds have been blocked, there’s no clarity as regards the amount that has been withdrawn in cash.
The Reuters report quotes Alejandro Diaz de Leon, the Mexico Central Bank Governor stating that the attack was unprecedented and that measures have been taken to prevent such incidents in the future. Diaz de Leon is also quoted as saying that though corrective and mitigating action is being taken, there’s no evidence to say that it’s all over; he states that the investigations are on.
It’s reported that at least five institutions have been impacted by the hacking attack. There are also speculations that the hackers might have had help inside bank branches, especially since such big withdrawals are not common.
The SPEI interbank transfer system of the central bank was not compromised, as per sources. The hacking was allegedly made possible due to issues pertaining to software developed by third-party providers or other institutions to connect to the payment system.
It’s reported that no clients have been affected. In the meantime, on May 16, Reuters had come up with a follow-up report which says that Banorte, one of the four largest commercial banks of Mexico, has claimed that its financial results have not been impacted. The report says- “Mexico’s No. 2 bank Banorte on Tuesday said it did not expect “any economic impact” on its financial results following what the central bank has called a cyber attack on connections to the domestic payment system.”