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Germany arrests two Dutch suspected of cyber crime bank heist

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German prosecutors said on Friday they had arrested two Dutch people suspected of involvement in a global cyber theft of $45 million from two Middle Eastern banks.

On Thursday U.S. prosecutors said a criminal gang had withdrawn the money from cash machines in 27 countries.

The Duesseldorf prosecutor's office said a 35-year-old male and a 56-year-old woman had been caught on February 19 withdrawing 170,000 euros in Duesseldorf using Bank of Muscat credit cards. In total, $2.4 million dollars had been withdrawn in seven German cities.

"We have arrested two Dutch people in Germany who apparently took part in this crime," a spokesman for the office said.

He added the two had come to Duesseldorf with the purpose of withdrawing the money in Germany. The two suspects are accused of computer fraud and faking credit cards.

Germany's BdB banking association said it was not aware of any banks in Germany suffering losses as a result of the scheme.

The hackers increased the available balance and withdrawal limits on prepaid MasterCard debit cards issued by Bank of Muscat of Oman, and National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah PSC (RAKBANK) of the United Arab Emirates, according to the complaint by U.S. prosecutors.

They then distributed counterfeit debit cards to "cashers" around the world, enabling them to siphon millions of dollars from cash machines in a matter of hours.

(Reporting by Alexander Huebner in Frankfurt and Sabine Siebold in Berlin; writing by Edward Taylor; editing by Andrew Roche)

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