Extortionist targets European banks

Con artist threatens financial institutions via e-mail


Banks located throughout Europe have recently become the target of a scam, in which a person claims to have accessed their customers’ credit card information, according to a recent report from SecureWorks.

In a threatening e-mail, the hacker states that he has stolen the credit card numbers of 48,000 customers and that he will upload that information on the Internet, as well as report the breach to news outlets unless he is paid ₤10,000.

Though the letter initially may have an air of credibility, Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence for SecureWorks and author of the report, says that the threat doesn’t hold water upon further inspection.

At one point in the e-mail the author says he has nothing to lose, regardless of the outcome, which Jackson refutes.

"The extortionist does stand to lose something if he posts the account data publicly," he said in a press release issued by SecureWorks. "It might be the ₤10,000 he would possibly get from the bank. Or at the very least, it is the approximately ₤1,000 he could get on the black market for the data."

So far, banks in France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Norway have reported receiving one of these e-mails and banks in the UK, Spain and Germany have reported receiving copycat scams.

If a bank does receive a letter of this nature, Jackson recommends that they not reply to the e-mails and contact law enforcement immediately.