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Police foil $423m cyber robbery

Great Britain

LONDON, England -- An attempt to steal a reported $423 million from a Japanese bank in London has been foiled, according to British police.

Cyber thieves intended to transfer the sum electronically to 10 bank accounts around the world after hacking into the computer system at Sumitomo Mitsui's London offices, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

But the plot was uncovered by the British police's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) before any of the transfers took place.

The Financial Times said the gang accessed Sumitomo's systems using software which captures every key stroke on a computer to gather secret information such as passwords and account numbers.

It is unclear whether they had access to Sumitomo's offices, or whether they hacked into the bank's systems and installed the software from elsewhere.

Late last year police warned financial institutions to look out for criminals using "key loggers."

On Wednesday Israeli police said they had arrested a 32-year-old man in the Tel Aviv area who had been an intended recipient for some of the money.

In a statement, Israeli police said there had been an attempt to transfer $27 million into an account "by deception in a sophisticated manner."

The man was charged with money laundering and deception and remanded in custody for seven days by a Tel Aviv magistrate.

Takashi Morita, head of communications at Sumitomo in Tokyo, told the UK's Press Association that the company had not suffered any financial loss as a consequence of the robbery attempt.

He said: "The case is still in the middle of investigation so we cannot comment further.

"We have undertaken various measures in terms of security and we have not suffered any financial damage."

A British police spokeswoman told the Associated Press there had been a "failed attempted theft" but refused to give any additional details.

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