Tuesday, 9 August 2016

ATM skimming fraud

Skimming racket busted, 3 Romanians arrested
TNN | Oct 6, 2015, 01.16 AM IST

MUMBAI: A major international skimming racket was busted by the Vinobha Bhave Nagar police of Kurla last week with the arrest of three Romania nationals. With these arrests, the police claim to have solved several undetected skimming cases registered across the city.

The three Romanians—Aulin Budoai, Marian Grahma and Mew Ionel—came to India in June on tourist visas and rented a two-bedroom flat in an upmarket area in Bandra. The police raided the house and recovered Rs 28.5 lakh cash, two laptops, 497 debit cards with magnetic code, mini-spy cameras, skimmers and five phones. Cops have frozen their passports and intimated the Romania embassy.

The gang would reccee ATMs and identify unguarded ones. They would enter the kiosks under the pretext of withdrawing money while their aides would keep a watch. "They would stick the skimmers near the card-reading slots and the cameras near the keyboards. The machines would, throughout the day, extract data from cards of people using the ATM and the cameras would record the PIN. Later, the accused would come and collect the machines. Using the recorded data, the perpetrators made duplicate ATM cards and used them to withdraw cash," said Deven Bharti, joint commissioner.

The racket came to light after a Kurla resident went to the police, complaining that Rs 36,500 had been withdrawn from her account four times. "We found the cash was withdrawn from a Kurla (W) ATM. We zeroed in on the accused from CCTV footage," said an officer.

"They duped many in Italy, Romania and other European nations. We'll get in touch with Interpol," said assistant commissioner Srirang Nadgowda.

Don’t become a victim of ATM skimming, here’s what you need to know-Some precautions you may want to take before withdrawing cash at an ATM
Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

More than four lakh rupees were drained from the bank accounts of 20 unsuspecting people in Thiruvananthapuram in a matter of seconds. They were all victims of skimming. While the Kerala police is on the lookout for three foreigners suspected to be behind the state’s biggest ATM fraud, here’s what you can do to keep your hard earned money safe from fraudsters.

What’s skimming?

Thieves place skimming device on the ATM Counter, by either replacing the original card reader or placing it on top of the reader. Designed to look like a legitimate card slot, Chronicle Live states, that the skimming device copies the magnetic strip details from your card. But the fraudsters still need your ATM PIN code. Fraudsters use hidden cameras to steal the secret code or they “shoulder surf” - someone who stands behind and watches you key in your PIN. Once fraudsters have your card details, they make a clone of the card and proceed to empty your bank account.

So what can you do to prevent becoming a victim of skimming?

If the card reader wiggles or has been attached with glue, don’t use the machine, suggests New York Times.

PC Mag India cautions users to check for signs of tampering – difference in colour, or material may indicate a skimming device. The report also suggests ATM users to check the next machine for obvious differences, for example if one card reader shows a sign of where to insert the ATM card while the other machine may have no such sign.

Chronicle Lives warns of a keypad that “feels spongy or unusually spot”. This suggests that the fraudster may have replaced the original keypad with a fake which helps register and steal the user’s PIN code.

Even if there’s no one standing behind you, always use your hand to cover the keypad while you type your ATM PIN, you never know who or what is watching, suggest experts.

Washington State Department of Financial Institutitons. For more pictures on what ATM skimming device looks like

But there are also some other precautions you may want to take:

Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket. NYT suggests starting another savings account in another bank, so that you will you have back-up money in case the thief empties your account.

Switch to the EMV chip card – considered a safer option than the magnetic stripe card. The RBI had advised banks to issue only chip-based cards from September 2015 keeping in mind fraud in card transactions.

And finally, in the event you do become an unsuspecting victim of skimming, report it to the bank. You will in most cases get your money back.

Three foreigners walked into a Kerala ATM, stole data and robbed hapless people-Most of the complaints are registered under Museum police station

In a film style ATM robbery, 20 people lost about Rs 4.5 lakhs in Thiruvananthapuram. The racket was busted after many people filed a complaint with the police, following messages they had received on their phone intimating them about transactions, which they had not carried out. Media reports state that most customers lost their money on Monday around 1pm.

Kerala police suspect three foreigners are allegedly involved in one of the biggest ATM frauds in Kerala, where 20 people lost about Rs 4.5 lakhs in Thiruvananthapuram. The money was reportedly withdrawn from ATMs in Mumbai and Delhi. An SIT team on Tuesday left for Mumbai to carry out further investigations.

The state’s Special Investigation Team has obtained CCTV video from the SBI ATM at Althara Junction near Vellayambalam, where all the fraudulent transactions were carried out. The video shows three people attaching an electronic device at the ATM counter, enabling the fraudsters to collect the PIN code and card details.

The device that was fixed above the ATM machine, had a micro camera and another device was placed in the card slot of the machine. According to the police, the micro camera might have helped in getting the ATM PINs.

The three suspects in the case

"We have started proper investigation. As per our understanding, they were here for the last 10 days. We assume they have not got any local support. Our request to the public is to change their pin numbers at the earliest. As of now we have found the device only from this particular ATM. Between June 30 and July 10, they have visited the ATM. We have also intimated CBI, Interpol and other national agencies regarding this," Inspector General Manoj K Abraham, who heads the SIT told TNM.

SBI has promised to refund customers whose money was stolen.

Media reports suggest that the fraudsters stole data using a skimming device.

This is one of the biggest ATM heists that the state has witnessed and the modus operandi followed is eerily similar to a 2009 Malayalam movie Robinhood starring Prithviraj.

So what is skimming?

Designed to look like a legitimate card slot, Chronicle Live states that the skimming device copies the magnetic strip details from your card. But the fraudsters still need your ATM PIN code. In this case, Kerala police found that a micro camera had been placed which helped them obtain the secret code. Once fraudsters have your card details, they make a clone of the card and proceed to empty your bank account.

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