The Tumakuru district police has busted an international gang in Karnataka, which siphoned off lakhs by cloning debit cards. Police said that with the gang bust, they have cracked at least 60 such cases of debit card fraud in the district over the last couple of months.
The police rounded up two gang members, identified as Ivan Kabomge, a native of Uganda living in Delhi and Lawrence Mukamu, a Kenyan also based in the Capital. Both arrived in India on student visas that are due to expire in March 2021. However, Tumakuru police said the same is subject to verification.
Tumakuru SP K Vamsi Krishna said more than 60 cases of debit card cloning and siphoning off money were registered in the district between September and October. The district is located 70km away from state capital Bengaluru.
The investigating officers in the case said they initially thought that the fraud victims weren’t awake to phishing scams and may have mistakenly shared their banking and debit card details, including the CVV. However, as more such cases came to light, the police launched a probe that eventually led them to the gang.
A special team of Tumakuru Cyber Crime Economic Offences & Narcotics (CEN) police was put together to find those responsible for the fraud. The team learned that some of the ATM kiosks in Nittor, Bheemasandra and Kunigal in Tumakuru district had been rigged. On further investigation, it was found that a tiny camera and a skimming machine had been fixed to each of these ATM kiosks to clone data and siphon off money.
“We found that cards were cloned and money with withdrawn from several ATM kiosks in Bengaluru, Chennai Delhi and Mumbai,” the SP said.
With some leads on the accused, the police started gathering information on vehicles that passed through toll points from Bengaluru -end till Tumakuru. They learned that a car registered to Delhi passed through these toll stops frequently between September and October. They traced the vehicle and found that it belonged to the foreigners who had been visiting the district quite often.
Opening up on the gang’s modus operandi, the SP said, “The culprits would carry a mobile debit card skimming machine and installed tiny cameras precisely near that part of ATM screens where the PIN has to be entered. The entire data was transferred to Delhi where cards were cloned. With the fake cards, money was withdrawn from several ATM kiosks across the country.”
Police said the gang had six members. “We have been able to arrest two of them and a manhunt has been launched for the rest. We are also investigating more such cases,” the SP said.
According to the police, the accused did not put up in Tumakuru for more than a day. They installed the skimming devices and cameras in the morning and removed them by the evening before leaving the district, the investigators said.
They added the fraudsters visited the district about 20 times over six days to siphon off money.
Police said they have seized around 20 cloned debit cards, skimming machines and the Honda CRV used by the arrested fraudsters.
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