Hi-tech gangs on the prowl to steal card data

Next time you go to an ATM, just tap it mildly before inserting your card. It might be having a skimmer to steal your card data.

There has been sharp rise in the inter-state tech-crime gangs which are targeting ATMs in different cities from time to time, warn police.

One such major gang was nabbed by the police here recently which brought a frightening modus operandi into light.

"Our investigation revealed that highly-qualified technocrats are involving in this crime to fraudulently draw money from customers accounts of different banks,’’ G Pala Raju, Deputy Commissioner of Policy, Central Crime Station (CCS), told Business Line here on Thursday.

According to him, hi-tech skimmers (which look-like layers) were being inserted in the protruding socket of ATM machines meant for cards. A tiny camera will be kept above the key-pad on which personal identification number is punched.

Once this is done in a particular ATM by a team of fraudsters, it would wait for four to five hours. "In busy hours/locations about 50 customers or so would use cards in this time. After obtaining data, they print it on duplicate cards which will be used to draw money from other states/cities,’’ the official explained.

The incidence of crime is "high and increasing" as cops also received alerts from their counter parts in other states.

HOW TO CHECK?

Mostly unmanned ATMs and those without CC cameras are turning easy targets for the fraudsters. There were cases when ATMs with cameras were also hit. Police mainly have three suggestions. First, banks should be more alert and should monitor cc camera footages on a regular basis. Second, security personnel should be deployed.

"More importantly, ATM technology should be upgraded so that the data could not be stolen with skimmers,’’ Raju said while adding that the police department was also working checking the crimes.

Banks, however, have their own view point. When contacted Andhra Bank CMD CVR Rajendran said the gangs are shuttling between different cities/ATMs to avoid being caught. "Most of the banks including us already installed cameras in ATMs.

"But what is if somebody blocks the camera? On the technology side, there have been constant efforts to prevent data theft,’’ he added.

Not surprisingly, the worst-hit are customers. P Ramesh Rao, a customer of a leading private bank, here had lost Rs 2.3 lakh in a similar fraud. "The bank refused to honour my complaint for a long time and after that insisted that I should file a FIR. Why should I file... I did not lose from my side? Its bank’s responsibility to protect my money,’’ he said.

So, we better be careful.

(This article was published on July 7, 2014)
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