It used to be that the underworld was where you would expect to find thieves. But the world has changed, and with it the way that crimes are being committed.
Take for example news reports about a “global posse” of cyber thieves who made off with some $45 million from ATMs in 26 countries in what authorities are calling a first-of-its kind heist.
Armed not with guns, but with laptops, this group of hackers managed not only to get into the computer networks of financial companies in the U.S. and India, but also to do away with the withdrawal limits on prepaid debit cards.
The good news here is that no individuals lost money. Instead, the crooks plundered money held by banks.
Just seven people have been indicted. An eighth, considered to be the ringleader, was found dead in the Dominican Republic.
It was a sophisticated crime that essentially turned the tables on the banking industry – which over the years has found ways to manipulate the financial markets and create one of the largest economic crises in U.S. history.
The difference between what happened with the ATM heist and what banks have, and continue to do, is that those thieves got caught and will be punished – and the ringleader is dead. But banks continue to manipulate the market and get away with this financial malfeasance because, as we all know, they are considered too big to fail.
Lawmakers have been giving a lot of lip service to cracking down on how banks will operate in the future, most recently with the introduction of the “Terminating Bailouts for Taxpayer Fairness Act of 2013 Act,” which sponsors argue will keep “any one financial institution from becoming so large and overleveraged that it could put our economy on the brink of collapse or trigger the need for a federal bailout.”
Despite those efforts, banks continue to sit in the catbird seat, able to maintain control of the market any way they can.
More recently, we have seen potential homebuyers clamoring to purchase new homes with reports of bidding wars breaking out. But like a cowboy trying to control wild horses, banks keep pulling back on the reins by creating an artificial shortage allowing inventory to creep out of the shadows at a pace that causes prices to go up.
Just like the banks that have, for years, figured out ways to line their pockets with cash on the backs of the American public, thieves, like the ones that made off with all of that ATM cash, will find more sophisticated ways to steal. And perhaps next time, like the banks, they will be able to get away with it.
Real estate attorney and foreclosure defense attorney, Roy Oppenheim left Wall Street for Main Street, founding Oppenheim Law along with his wife Ellen in 1989 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and is vice president of Weston Title and creator of the South Florida Law Blog, named the best business and technology blog by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Follow Roy on Twitter at @OpLaw or like Oppenheim Law on Facebook.