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A criminal mastermind that police have been tracking since 2013 has been apprehended in Spain. He and his organisation stole around €1 billion ($1.24 billion) through the Carbanak and Cobalt malware attacks on banks.

The man was the leader of an international hacking group and has been hacking into banks for years and stealing money. During that time, they have infiltrated more than 100 banks. They siphoned the money by using advanced computer software via bank transfers or by dispensing it from ATMs.

They have been able to order ATMs to dispense money at specific times, allowing members of their group to retrieve it. They have also altered the amount of money in their own accounts and then withdrawn it through ATMs. They are part of a large network of criminals that has been working together to do this.

The thieves used sophisticated malware to hack the banks. They chose key members of the bank staff and then sent compromising emails to infiltrate them. Once the money was in hand, they would launder it through crypto-currencies. Then, they would buy luxury goods such as cars and houses.

Police in Spain, Romania, Belarus and Taiwan have been working together to find the group. Steven Wilson, head of Europe’s Cyber-Crime Centre has called this arrest a “significant success”. He also said, “The arrest of the key figure in this crime group illustrates that cyber-criminals can no longer hide behind perceived international anonymity.”

They are now trying to locate the other members.

Difficult words

Criminal Mastermind: A very intelligent person who uses their mind to do illegal things.

Apprehend: To arrest someone

Infiltrate: To gain access or control of something

Siphon: To slowly take or transfer something

Dispense: Distribute or provide.

Alter: To change something

Launder: To hide or conceal where money came from

Illustrate: To explain or make clear

Perceive: To realize or understand

Anonymity: To be anonymous, for no one to know who you are

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English:

American English:

Match the Synonym!

1. Apprehend A. Invade
2. Infiltrate B. Take
3. Siphon C. Change
4. Dispense D. Understand
5. Alter E. Arrest
6. Launder F. Unknown
7. Illustrate G. Hand out
8. Perceive H. Hide money
9. Anonymity I.  Explain

True or False?

1. A thief has been taken into custody in Spain. T / F

2.  The organisation stole about $1 million.T / F

3.  The organisation would walk inside banks and rob them. T / F

4. The group did not take money from ATMs. T / F

5. The group is part of a large network of criminals. T / F

6. They chose important members of staff at the bank to hack into the system. T / F

7. The group used emails to infiltrate the systems.  T / F

8. The group was careful and did not buy any luxury goods. T / F

9.  Only one country has been looking for these robbers. T / F

10. The police do not think catching the leader is a success. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. criminal / has / Spain / in / apprehended / mastermind / been / A

2. leader / of / international / was / an / hacking / man / the / The / group

3. 100 / infiltrated / they / that / During / have / more / time, / than / banks

4. able / been / They / to / ATMs / dispense / order / have / to / money

5. malware / thieves / banks / the / to / hack / used / The / sophisticated

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English:

American English:

 Launder Infiltrated Mastermind
Siphoned Organisation  Perceived
 Network  Retrieve  Significant

A criminal ________________ that police have been tracking since 2013 has been apprehended in Spain. He and his _______________ stolearound €1 billion ($1.24 billion) through the Carbanak and Cobalt malware attacks on banks.

The man was the leader of an international hacking group and has been hacking into banks for years and stealing money. During that time, they have _____________ more than 100 banks. They ______________ the money by using advanced computer software via bank transfers or by dispensing it from ATMs.

They have been able to order ATMs to dispense money at specific times, allowing members of their group to ___________ it. They have also altered the amount of money in their own accounts and then withdrawn it through ATMs. They are part of a large _________ of criminals that has been working together to do this.

The thieves used sophisticated malware to hack the banks. They chose key members of the bank staff and then sent compromising emails to infiltrate them. Once the money was in hand, they would _____________ it through crypto-currencies. Then, they would buy luxury goods such as cars and houses.

Police in Spain, Romania, Belarus and Taiwan have been working together to find the group. Steven Wilson, head of Europe’s Cyber-Crime Centre has called this arrest a “______________ success”. He also said, “The arrest of the key figure in this crime group illustrates that cyber-criminals can no longer hide behind _______________ international anonymity.”

They are now trying to locate the other members.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you know about hacking?
4. Do you worry about someone hacking into your computer?
5. Why do you think hackers do what they do?
6. Do you think hackers help with technology development?
7. What punishment should a hacker receive?
8. Is stealing digitally the same as stealing physically?
9. What do you think about illegally downloading music and movies from the internet?
10. Do you make sure to download and update the security on your computer?
11. How much do you try to protect your digital life?
12. What is the worst thing a hacker could do to the world?
13. What’s the worst example of hacking that you have heard of?
14. Do you think there is less and less safety with computers?
15. Do you think large companies worry about hackers?
16. Do you use difficult passwords for your devices and accounts?
17. Do you know what two-factor authentication is?
18. How can we better protect our information?
19. Do you think banks are weak against cyber threats?
20. What questions would you like to ask the hacker?