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Two Japanese arrested over massive ATM heist

AFP-JIJI

Two Japanese men were arrested Tuesday for allegedly stealing money from an ATM as part of the coordinated nationwide heist that netted over a billion yen a little more than two weeks ago.

The theft on May 15 reportedly involved about 100 members of an international gang, each making a series of withdrawals from 1,400 ATMs around the country in less than three hours.

The haul reportedly totaled ¥1.4 billion, with cash-dispensing machines in Tokyo and Osaka among those targeted.

Tatsuo Nakazono and Katsuya Sahashi, both 28, were arrested on charges that they used fake credit cards to withdraw ¥1.2 million from ATM machines at two convenience stores in Aichi Prefecture on or around May 15, a police spokesman there said.

They conspired to withdraw and steal the money “by using (fake) credit cards” a total of 12 times, the spokesman alleged.

He would not elaborate or comment on the status of the investigation into the coordinated theft.

The spokesman, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity, identified the men’s occupation as laborers.

Kyodo News, along with other major media including the Yomiuri Shimbun, said the arrests were part of the broader nationwide heist.

That was allegedly carried out by thieves armed with fake credit card details from South Africa’s Standard Bank.

It was not clear how the gang made off with the money so quickly as cash machines usually limit withdrawals to ¥100,000 a day.

Standard Bank acknowledged the heist and put its losses at around $19 million.

The lightning-fast raids began early on the morning of May 15, a Sunday, when banks were closed.

Similar robberies have occurred in recent years, including a pair of heists totaling about $45 million that saw a group of cyberthieves disable withdrawal limits on ATMs around the world.