A wave of digital financial crimes was traced to a shadowy ring of “thumb bandits” who gained access to corporate and high-end individual bank accounts around the world, unlocking hundreds of millions of dollars in treasure as well as cyber secrets that could compromise national security, federal authorities said this week.
The ring, believed to operate out of Silicon Valley and which leaves a mysterious thumbs-up icon at the scene of many of its biggest crimes, uses biometric technology to gain access to well-protected mobile bank accounts, thumb-pad-activated deposit boxes, Bloomberg financial terminals and even the ubiquitous iPhone.
A rash of illegal “thumb muggings” is at the heart of the scheme, with hundreds of people reporting being zapped unconscious by their mobile phones while in the hospital, only to wake up with a bloody stump where their right or left thumb used to be.
Sound crazy? It certainly was in the late 1980s, when screenwriter Bob Galeenvisioned a futuristic world in 2015 for his Back to the Future series, inhabited by thumb bandits who committed crimes with stolen thumbs used to operate locks and appliances.