NEW YORK -- Ercan Findikoglu, 36, is the mastermind behind one of the most intricate bank robberies in history; A crime so brazen, he posed with a pile of cash on his chest.
Secret Service agent Scott Sarafian says millions were taken from ATMs in New York City alone.
“Like any well-organized plan they had it mapped out, and they knew that Broadway had a large number of ATMs in close proximity to each other,” Sarafian said.
From Turkey, Findikoglu hacked into the computers of international banks, stole account information and then sent ATM numbers to criminal gangs around the world he had recruited online. He also removed all withdrawal limits from the accounts.
Gang members -- seen on surveillance cameras -- went to work, hitting machines from Tokyo to London to New York.
Secret Service agent Ken Premo says they emptied the ATMs with just one card.
“Multiple transactions … Put the card in, put your pins in, take out the limit. Put your card in, put your pin in, take out your limit,” he said.
Back in Turkey, Findikoglu was monitoring it all.
“He was watching so he could tell who was withdrawing how much so that he’d know how much money he was supposed to get back,” Premo said.
The first hit, in February of 2011, netted $10 million through 15,000 transactions in 18 countries.
The second hit was in December 2012. Thieves made 5,000 transactions in 20 countries, withdrawing $5 million.
Then the big score, on February 19th, 2013. In a little over 10 hours, crews made some 36,000 transactions in 24 countries for a take of $40 million dollars in cash.
The thieves sent most of the money back to Findikoglu, but started showing off their take: cash and expensive watches. Their end came at a mob movie staple: a New York diner where police arrested one gang member carrying almost $1 million.
But Dave Beach, who runs the Secret Service office in New York, says most of the money has not been recovered.
“Gone. Just gone. It was cash. It’s untraceable,” Beach said.
The operation was so sophisticated that by round three, Findikoglu had figured out which ATMs carried the most cash and instructed his teams to hit those first.
He was extradited to the U.S. in 2015 and will spend the next eight years in jail, and then be deported