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India Fraudsters use nail cutters, screwdrivers to withdraw money from ATMs

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by rajneesh madhok, Aug 7, 2010.

  1. rajneesh madhok

    rajneesh madhok India
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    Jan 1, 2010
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    KOLKATA: Beware if the ATM screen goes blank after you swipe your card. It could be a mischief by fraudsters to withdraw cash from your account after you leave the ATM in a huff. A bit of adhesive and a screwdriver are all that’s needed to outwit hi-tech safety gadgets.

    These swindlers are part of a powerful inter-state network spread across the country. Assam Police and Kolkata Police have recently rounded up three swindlers who have mastered the tampering of ATMs.

    The trick applies only to ATM machines that need a customer to insert and extract the card to start operations (as opposed to ATMs where the card pops out after the transaction is complete). Many nationalised banks, including SBI and Bank of Baroda, use this system at their ATMs, most of which are unmanned. So, what is this low-tech, highly effective modus operandi?

    Fraudsters, who generally strike in pairs, enter the ATM by swiping a valid debit card at the gate, press down a key on the keyboard and stick it with adhesive so that it does not return to its original position. This switches on the machine. They then walk out and wait for a victim to step into the trap.

    When a customer enters the ATM and swipes the card, he does not realise that the machine is already on. A message flashes for him to key his PIN, which he does. But since the machine has been switched on in an improper way, the screen goes blank automatically as a security feature to stop fraudulent withdrawals.

    The customer thinks it is a system fault and gives it a second try. He has no clue that the two ‘customers’ getting impatient outside are actually criminals waiting to steal his money. They start abusing him for taking too much time and force him to leave in a huff.

    Exit customer, enter fraudster. They simply use a screwdriver to ‘release’ the key. The ATM restarts automatically. What it has in store is the PIN of the last customer who swiped his card. The gang simply enters the amount and walks out with cash.

    The SBI has been receiving several such complaints from its unmanned ATMs. “We were at a loss to locate the fraud because the CCTVs showed the customer swiping his card. But customers complained that they couldn’t withdraw money,” an SBI official said.

    Later, banks found out that the actual transaction happened long after the customer had swiped his card and left. And, the CCTV footage always showed two or more suspicious persons enter the cubicle soon after the customer left. “What struck us is that the transaction was completed only after the group of people left the counter ,” the bank official said. Banks then complained to the police.

    One such complaint was lodged at Entally police station in June this year. CCTV footage came handy for investigators from the anti-bank fraud wing of Kolkata Police. One of the kingpins, Adid Khan, was caught in the act as he tried out the same stunt at an ATM in a shopping district.

    Police seized adhesives, screwdrivers and nail cutters from his associates, simple tools that helped them carry out a near-perfect crime. Three ATM cards, a debit card, a car and Rs 2 lakh in cash were seized. Probe revealed the trio are part of a large gang operating from Gaya in Bihar. When they confessed, police were stunned by the simplicity of the operation.

    The trick applies only to ATM machines that need a customer to insert and extract the card to start operations.

    The customer has no clue that the ‘others’ getting impatient outside are actually criminals waiting to steal his money.

    The SBI has been receiving several complaints from its unmanned ATMs.

    Rajneesh Madhok
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