It was an ignoble end to a spectacular but brief career by all accounts.
Alberto Yusi Lajud-Peña, one of a number of suspected ringleaders behind a coordinated and sophisticated global bank heist operation that netted the thieves $45 million in stolen funds, was mowed down inside his Dominican Republic home last month while playing dominoes, robbing authorities of the chance to bring him to justice with his alleged co-conspirators.
Lajud-Pena, also known as “Prime” and “Albertico,” was just 25 when he was reportedly shot twice on April 27 while sitting with two friends.
According to a story and photos published by DeMaoSoy, two masked men broke into the house and shot Lajud-Pena in his right side, killing him almost instantly. They wounded the two others, brothers Stuart del Rosario Duarte, 20, and Brayan del Rosario Duarte, 18, were shot in their thighs.
The robbers left behind a manila envelope stuffed with $100,000 in bills, as well as an arsenal of weapons, including an M16 rifle and a 9mm Smith Wesson pistol and a cache of ammunition. According to La Nacion Dominicana the murder was directly related to internal conflicts among the gang members over how the stolen money was divided. Lajud-Pena had just returned to the Dominican Republic from New York 14 days earlier, according to the publication.
Three men have been arrested for the killing.
Photos accompanying a story published by Telenord, a local broadcaster, show the bearded Lajud-Pena after his death, alongside images of the weapons and cash seized from his home by police.
Lajud-Pena was one of eight suspects charged in New York in an indictment unsealed Thursday for their alleged roles in an international cybercrime ring that pulled off at least two sophisticated and coordinated bank heists.
Hackers, who are not named in the indictment, infiltrated the computers of two bank card processors based in India and the U.S. in order to steal prepaid debit card numbers and erase the withdrawal limits on the accounts. They then distributed the card data to cashers, including the ring in New York, who encoded the data onto blank magnetic stripe cards before using them to siphon cash from ATMs around the globe in a whirlwind operation that lasted just hours but netted them millions of dollars.
“In the place of guns and masks, this cybercrime organization used laptops and the Internet. Moving as swiftly as data over the Internet, the organization worked its way from the computer systems of international corporations to the streets of New York City, with the defendants fanning out across Manhattan to steal millions of dollars from hundreds of ATMs in a matter of hours,” United States Attorney Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement. “Law enforcement is committed to moving just as swiftly to solve these cybercrimes and bring their perpetrators to justice.”
The gang first struck December 22 when hackers targeted a credit card processor in India that handled transactions for prepaid MasterCard debit cards issued to customers of the National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah PSC, or RAKBANK, in the United Arab Emirates. They handed off the stolen data for five accounts to cashers in 20 countries who withdrew $5 million in cash in more than 4,500 ATM withdrawals.
Map showing the coordinated cashout operation in New York by the alleged suspects at right. Courtesy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York
Lajud-Pena’s gang in New York was responsible for more than half of that, allegedly siphoning $2.8 million from more than 750 Manhattan ATMs in a coordinated heist that lasted 2.5 hours.
The gang struck again on February 19, beginning around 3pm and continuing until 1:30 the next morning. The hackers targeted a different bank card processor this time, based in the U.S., that handled transactions for the Bank of Muscat in Oman. They handed off data for just 12 card prepaid card accounts to cashers in 24 countries who, within 10 hours, made off with about $40 million in a coordinated operation involving 36,000 ATM withdrawals.
Lajud-Pena’s gang was allegedly responsible for about $2.4 million of that booty.
Surveillance photos of one suspect reportedly caught him with his backpack growing heavier as he stuffed it with cash.
Authorities seized hundreds of thousands of dollars from bank accounts used to launder the money, as well as two Rolex watches and a Mercedes SUV.