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OTC Exchanges Help Thwart $5M Bank Heist in Brazil

05/10/2020

A $5 million hack that has baffled investigators in Brazil was thwarted with assistance from local OTC trading desks.

A $5 million online heist in Brazil targeting Spanish multinational financial institution, Banco Santander was thwarted after the funds were seized with local over-the-counter (OTC) crypto exchanges.

The perpetrators immediately moved to convert the stolen funds into Bitcoin (BTC), however, the cash triggered many of the bank accounts of the exchanges to be frozen upon receipt, according to local press The Bitcoin Portal. 

The media outlet claims to have obtained internal documents from Santander detailing an investigation into the incident, revealing that the institution is uncertain as to exactly how the funds were stolen.

$5 mln stolen from Banco Santander in Brazil

During mid-April, Santander identified irregularities in the accounts of local steel manufacturer, Gerdau — comprising 11 suspicious transactions totaling $5 million that were all made from a single IP address.

A police report was filed on April 20, requesting that the public open an investigation into the theft.

The sums were transferred to the bank accounts of four OTC Bitcoin trading desks. Local media report that eight people involved in the case indicated that the bank accounts of the exchanges receiving the funds were frozen. According to an anonymous OTC desk operator:

“As it was a very high amount, of R $ 5 million [$900,000], we asked for a bank statement from the original account. When we realized that the money we received had entered the original account on the same day, we blocked the operation. Immediately, the customer started to pressure me to send the Bitcoin, but I didn’t. A short time later, the bank blocked my account.”

Santander puzzled by theft

The perpetrators executed the transfers from Santander via the account of corporate customer, Mundial Illumination.

Describing the incident, the Public Prosecutor stated: “It is as if a corporate bank account had invaded another corporate bank account for the order to debit the bank.”