"How does a $25 million wire transfer between the two most secure banks in the world just vanish? What kind of super-hacker allows his true identity to be revealed while committing a crime?"
- From DIG: The Official Prequel, Inspired by USA Network's Television Event Series
CYBERHEIST: $25 million caper stuns bank officials
(Reuters) Jerusalem -- A $25 million wire transfer from the U.S. Treasury to Israel has disappeared, according to Bank Leumi officials. The money was slated as part of a foreign aid package coordinated in conjunction with Special Envoy Barnette's office in Washington D.C.
In a stunning turn of events, the heist was allegedly carried out by bank employee Jonathan Frank, 33, who re-routed the money to a temporary account, where the funds sat for two hours before disappearing into thin air. Someone, presumably Frank, hacked into the bank's system and wired the money elsewhere, erasing all the transaction and tracking numbers in the process.
"With millions of accounts and tens of millions of transactions on any given day, it could be years before any trace of the money is found. Understandably, this is a major embarrassment for America and Israel as public confidence in global cyber security will be affected," says one bank official on the condition of anonymity.
As a result of this security breach, in an effort to provide full cooperation with both governments, Bank Leumi announced early this morning, that all bank employees are being re-screened and questioned.
"This was well-planned, and it probably took many months just to learn how to evade bank security measures," said Detective Golan Cohen with the Israeli Police. “Rest assured, we will catch whoever did this and bring them to justice.”
Detective Golan made headlines for being responsible for spearheading and bringing to justice reputed Russian Mafioso boss, Gregoriy Timoshishin, early last year.
Lynn Monahan, Legal Attaché at the American Consulate in Jerusalem, has pledged the FBI's "full and complete support" in apprehending Frank and recovering the stolen funds. She is assigning newly transferred Peter Connelly, “a highly decorated FBI agent,” to head the team. “I am confident that we will find the perpetrator responsible and bring him to American justice.” Agent Peter Connelly, recently transferred from a highly prestigious post in Washington, was unavailable for comment.
Sources close to the investigation say Jonathan Frank's real identity is believed to be the super-hacker that goes by the handle “Akula” (which translates to “shark” in Russian), who has been evading authorities for years. Frank remains at large.
When questioned about the potential jurisdictional problems between the United States and Israel regarding this arrest, Legal Attaché Lynn Monahan stated that Special Agent Connelly is eager to cooperate with local authorities in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.
3:00 pm (Israeli time; 8:00 am EST)
July 10, 2014
The first thing I felt when I stepped out of Ben Gurion airport was a blast of hot wind in my face and visions of palm trees swaying in the breeze. For a moment, I thought my plane had taken a wrong turn and I was in Los Angeles. But in Los Angeles it’s easier to get a cab, and if I were there, Lynn Monahan, my former protégée, would not be waiting for me outside Customs, impatiently tapping her foot. I forgot how good she looks.
Apparently, while I was flying coach crossing the Atlantic, enjoying Diet Coke and peanuts (okay, 2-3 mini bottles of scotch and a beer), someone hacked into the U.S. Treasury and routed it to some unknown location somewhere in my new post: Jerusalem. Great luck. Dripping from the heat, jet lagged, and slightly hung over, with my former subordinate now my boss, I’m already a day behind on the case.
My first thought: how the fuck does this happen? How does a $25 million wire transfer between the two most secure banks in the world just vanish? What kind of super-hacker allows his true identity to be revealed while committing a crime? There’s no doubt in my mind Jonathan Frank is not the famed hacker Akula; that is just too simplistic and from what I’ve been reading about Akula, he’s too smart for such a rookie move. But if finding Frank is one step closer to me getting Akula and closing my first case in my new appointment, then I will find Frank.
Thankfully, on the car ride to the airport, Lynn didn’t mention anything about my “leave of absence.” When you have to take paid leave “for personal reasons,” you have to expect people to ask a lot of questions. (Besides being easy on the eyes, I forgot how cool Lynn is about most things. She just smiled and told me a bunch of things about the city that I have already forgotten, but didn’t ask any questions I would have to lie about the answers or ignore.) Ever since I took time off, people have been very delicate with me. The shrink at the agency was always nodding, prying me to talk about what happened, and when I didn’t, she told the Agency I needed time off. So, here I am, in Jerusalem, ready to prove myself to the Agency and to myself. Mostly to myself.
Once at the consulate, Lynn handed me off to Liat, a local hire and analyst who used to work with the Israeli police. Lynn promised that Liat is the best there is, and she will give me a leg up since part of my job is acting as liaison between the U.S. FBI and the local Israeli police. Liat was pleasant enough, very no-nonsense, and she seems to really admire Lynn. I find the people here to be intense, but very welcoming. After Liat showed me my office, I got my first email. Of course, it was from Lynn.
I forgot to tell you, Shalom Falafel is the best falafel in the city (although this is a bitterly debated among all the consulate personal). You will love it. Add the chutney. Extra pickles.
PS: Don’t worry about the leave of absence. I believe in you. If Liat hasn’t already told you, your point person at the Jerusalem Police Department is Detective Golan Cohen and he’s awaiting your call. As you know, playing nice with the local police is essential to our success here!
7:00 pm Israeli time (12 pm EST)
By the time I went through all the documents Liat had organized for me I was feeling the time difference. Lynn was right about Liat; she’s very thorough. Akula is a very clever felon – Liat agrees with me – there is no way that Akula would just announce his identity as this person named Jonathan Frank to the world simply to get caught! But Frank’s connection to Akula is still a big question. This reminds me of those Bond movies where the evil villain always used some unsuspecting patsy. Who is Jonathan Frank and why would he help Akula? Is he a patsy, an unwilling accomplice, or a conspirator? Finding Jonathan Frank is the key.
On my way to the hotel, I could barely keep my eyes open and my stomach started grumbling. Sorry, Lynn, my stomach can’t do falafel. I’m looking for something plain, preferably a nice scotch at the hotel bar and a burger and some fries.
The sun, the language, the bustling Old City Market, full of souvenirs and scarves…Vicki would have loved it here.
Memo to Lynn Monahan
From FBI U.S. Headquarters
Lynn: We just saw the Reuters interview, and were surprised at Peter’s involvement without prior discussion. The news has hit Director Banks’ office and given the circumstances under which Peter Connelly was reassigned to Jerusalem we need assurances he can handle the pressure given the increased visibility of this case. We’ve learned Akula has been on the run for years and we really need a win here. Please advise.
YOU ARE READING
DIG: The Official PrequelMystery / Thriller
Peter Connelly, a highly decorated FBI agent, has just arrived in Jerusalem for a new assignment—there’s been a major cyber heist and it’s up to him to track the missing millions and whoever’s responsible. While the FBI believes this to be the work...