A former Hong Kong policeman began a 4-year jail sentence Tuesday for his part in a global 10 million US dollar scam using cloned credit cards. Cheung Hoi-wing, 40, was recruited as one of five Hong Kong ‘cashers’ in the international plot masterminded by a gang of Russian and Eastern European computer hackers in November 2008. The cashers stole 4.2 million Hong Kong dollars (538,000 US dollars) from Hong Kong branches of RBS WorldPay, a division of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, using cloned debit cards provided by the hackers. Cheung appeared in court Monday for sentencing after pleading guilty to possessing false documents and conspiracy to steal, the South China Morning Post reported.
Court heard Cheung had withdrawn 1.25 million Hong Kong dollars that he gave to an accomplice in return for 20,000 Hong Kong dollars. A total of 44 cloned cards were used worldwide in the scam to withdraw cash worth about 10 million US dollars in 280 cities around the world in countries including the US, Japan and Russia. All took place over a 12-hour period on November 8 and 9, 2008.
RBS WorldPay noticed the large withdrawals and lauched an investigation. Cheung was arrested after police identified him from surveillance camera footage. His accomplices in Hong Kong are still being sought. The gang who masterminded the plot hacked into the RBS WorldPay computer system, stealing details of cards and accounts and then increasing the allowed withdrawal amount on those accounts. A number of the hackers have been arrested in the scam, which has been described by US prosecutors as ‘perhaps the most sophisticated and organized computer fraud attack ever conducted.’