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ATM Cards of Leading Banks Cloned in Mahableshwar, Four Puneites Cheated to the Tune of Rs 1.43 Lakh

Cybercrime Sleuths Probing the Role of Conmen who had attached the Skimmer machine to the ATM’s

BeyondHeadlines Special Correspondent

PUNE: Arpan Wani, Prateek Singhvi, Kaushik and Vineet Mehare were strangers to each other till Monday, when a common problem brought them together at the Cyber Crime Cell of Pune city police.

All of them have lost thousands of rupees each to fraudsters who ‘cloned’ their ATM cards and withdrew cash. The common link between these transactions is that they had used their cards at ATMs of IDBI Bank and Union Bank of India in Mahableshwar, where they had gone for trip in the last few days.

On Sunday afternoon, the fraudsters had used their cloned card to withdraw Rs 50,000 each from Wani and Singhvi’s accounts, Rs 70,000 from Vineet and Rs 13,000 from account of Kaushik. There were several transactions of Rs. 10,000 from the ATMs  located in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Now all of them have complaints with their respective police stations.

These cases have given nightmares to cops who believe that there would be hundreds of people who must have used these ATMs on Sundays, when the popular hill town is visited by thousands. Preliminary investigations have revealed that the conmen had attached the skimmer, a tiny machine, used to capture data of ATM cards, on Sundays in last few days.

“I always use ATM on the premise of my company. I visited Mahableshwar on January 26 (Sunday) and had withdrawn cash from one of the ATMs, after another failed to dispense cash. I had changed my ATM PIN just a day before and this was only time when I used my card after changing the PIN.

On Sunday (February 2) in five transactions of Rs 10,000 each, the fraudster had withdrawn Rs 50,000 within five minutes from an ATM in Hyderabad,” said Singhvi, a resident of Pashan.

An officer from one of the bank whose ATM in Hyderabad was used to withdraw cash, told BeyondHeadlines, “As long as the machine reads the card and the valid pin is entered, the machine will dispense cash as entered by the customer. This is the case with any ATM in India, additionally any bank customer is allowed to use any bank’s ATM to withdraw cash and conduct transactions.

All our ATMs have been fitted with CCTV cameras and guards are present at all ATMs that are located in our branch premises. We have not been approached by any local authorities, or by the bank in which the customer holds his account with regards to this matter. If approached we will extend all necessary cooperation including the footage of the ATM centre.”

The fraudsters wanted to withdraw all the cash and stopped only when these people blocked their cards. “By the time I blocked my card after calling the helpline number, Rs 70,000 was withdrawn in seven transactions,” said Mehare from Kharadi.

The Cyber Crime Cell officials are investigating the common factor between all these cases. “We suspect that the skimmer machines were attached the ATMs of Union Bank of India and IDBI Bank in Mahableshwar. These two ATMs are common factor in the four latest cases. With the help of bank officials, we are trying to ascertain how many persons had withdrawn money on Sundays from these ATMs. Those who have withdrawn cash on Sundays must change ATM pin immediately as a precautionary measure. Investigations are on to nab the culprits,” said ACP (Cyber Crime Cell) Gopinath Patil.

The complainants have also taken up the matter with their respective banks. “I have filed a dispute claim form with my bank,” added Wani from Vadgaosheri.

Modus Operandi

As per information given by the Crime Branch officers, ATM card fraudsters work in three teams with one mastermind who guides them. “The first team gets data (card details), the other processes them and makes cards while third team withdraws cash. Once details like card number, PIN are available, it’s easy to make ‘clone’ of the ATM card,” said a police officer.

The officer added, “The fraudsters use tinny skimmer machines to capture card details and they also keep a watch on the customers. The skimmer machines are attached on the ATM itself or at the door of the ATM centre, where some people swipe the card to open it thinking the door is locked. In most cases, they block the actual slot on the ATM and attach skimmer. People swipe their card on the skimmer and enter PIN but cash is not dispensed, they go away thinking the ATM machine is not working, while the fraudsters get the details.”

With the help of skimmer, police say a card can be cloned after it is swiped to make a payment at petrol pumps, restaurants or malls. Card details can also be compromised during purchases online.

Guidelines for citizens

– Do not swipe card except actual slot on ATM

– Do not hand over your ATM-cum-debit card to any person

– Do not keep any records of the PIN in physical form. Best to memorise it

–  Insist on swiping your card in your presence in the hotels/shops/malls etc

– Change your PIN after the first usage and periodically after that

–  Hide keypad with one hand, while keying in your PIN at ATM/POS terminals

–  Do not conduct the transaction if you observe any attachments or unusual devices connected to the ATM machine

– Always check the bank statement for any suspicious transactions

Police notice to banks

– While providing electronic data machines, banks should pay attention to number of swipes of customers’ credit-debit cards should be one at the point of sale. In some places, cards can be swiped twice to collect customers’ data. Banks ignore this fact.

– Monitoring system should be stronger at the merchants allowing to pay by credit-debit cards to avoid theft.

– Follow PCIDSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) and ISO27001.

– All the data on the cards should be protected. No one should access the data without a password.

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