Saturday, June 15, 2013

Gang skims city cops of lakhs at ATM adjacent to police HQ


Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: Even the police are not safe nowadays. Unidentified cyber criminals hacked into 37 Axis Bank accounts, including 14 belonging to Mumbai cops, and withdrew sums amounting to Rs 15.48 lakh from ATMs. Some of these fraudulent withdrawals happened in faraway Greece. Police suspect that a criminal gang had fitted a skimming device inside an ATM that is adjacent to the state police headquarters in Colaba and copied data from the debit cards used there. This data was misused to clone the cards and operate their accounts illegally.
 
    The bank and the police are yet to determine the amount in Euros withdrawn fraudulently in Greece. The accused had installed the skimmer device in April but began withdrawing from various accounts only this week.
 
    On June 10, a police constable recently received an SMS alert on his mobile phone informing him that Rs 9,500 had been deducted from his bank account. A mini-statement obtained at an ATM showed that the money was withdrawn using his card in Greece.
 
BEWARE OF TECH THIEVES
    The accused had installed a skimming device, a tiny machine that copies data from a bank card, at an ATM kiosk next to the police HQ in Colaba. Police say the skimmer was attached to the machine in April without the bank being aware of it. The accused later removed it physically

    Once scamsters have skimmed your card, they can create a fake or ‘cloned’ card with your account details on it

    The stolen data in this case was either
transmitted electronically to someone in Greece or the gang members used it to clone cards and
withdraw money personally
    Bank experts say such frauds occur seven to eight times a year. About one and a half years ago, a skimming device was installed in an ATM kiosk in Oshiwara and money was withdrawn from other ATMs
 
 
Cops across ranks fell victim to skimmers
Mumbai: Scamsters haven’t spared the Mumbai police either. On Monday, a constable was shocked to get an SMS alert from his bank about an ATM withdrawal of Rs 9,500 which he had never done. He spoke about it to a few colleagues and learned that he was not the only victim in the force. Several policemen, irrespective of their rank, had had sums of up to Rs 50,000 deducted from their Axis Bank accounts. The driver of an officer of additional directorgeneral of police rank is believed to have lost Rs 33,000 from his account. In his case too, the money was shown as having been withdrawn in Greece.
 
    Apreliminary investigation has found that none of the cops who lost money had visited an ATM or paid any kind of bills on the day the withdrawals were made. The victims then registered complaints at their local police stations.
 
    Deputy police commissioner, Satya Narayan Chaudhry, who was recently appointed the city police’s spokesman, said, “Some cases were reported to us on Thursday and Friday. But the bank told us that some of the cases dated back to April.” Policemen are compiling the list of all policemen whose accounts have been hacked into. Chaudhry added that Axis Bank officials told the policemen that they were ready to compensate the victims for the money they have lost. “We have issued guidelines in the past on security features while operating bank accounts. We will review them again,” he added.
 
    Ravindra Shisve, deputy commissioner of police (zone-1), said they have registered an FIR under various sections of the IPC and Information Technology Act for cheating, forgery and hacking at the Colaba police station. “The accused had attached a tiny skimming device to the ATM machine. The skimmer would copy all the transaction data and information from the magnetic strip of an inserted card. It is quite likely that the skimming device also copied PIN numbers, which were later removed. The accused either sent this data electronically to someone in Greece or they themselves used it to withdraw money in Greece. We are probing the case and a police team will go to Greece to trace the accused,” he said.
 
    Of the total amount withdrawn, cops have lost Rs 2.5 lakh in various transactions by the accused. The police are also trying to get CCTV footage at the Colaba ATM to check if they can zero in on the accused’s images.
 
    An official spokesperson of Axis Bank said, “A small number of our customers’ accounts (fewer than 50) have been impacted through transactions at compromised ATMs in Mumbai belonging to multiple banks. We have reversed the impact in all such customers’ accounts with immediate effect, to ensure they are not inconvenienced. We are undertaking a full investigation into the incident and are working closely with law enforcement officials in this regard. We wish to assure our customers that Axis Bank stands committed to protecting their interests and that we have the necessary systems to ensure the same.”


The Times of India, June 15, 2013

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