As many as 76 people fell victims to debit card cloning in the last eight days in Kolkata, police said Wednesday.
“Since July 24 till date, a total of 76 complaints have been filed in Kolkata. Customers of Canara Bank, Punjab National Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank have mainly submitted the complaints. So far, approximately Rs 18-20 lakh have been withdrawn by frauds through skimming of ATM cards. We have received maximum complaints from two ATMs — one in Gariahat, a Canara Bank ATM, and the other a PNB ATM in Mullick Bazar area,” said Joint CP (Crime) Praveen Tripathy.
A Special Investigating team has been formed under DC (cyber crime) Santosh Pandey to look into the matter, police said. Sources also said money has been withdrawn from ATMs in areas of Delhi such as Connaught Place and Hauz Khas, adding Kolkata Police are in touch with their Delhi counterparts to probe the matter.
Pandey, along with officials from the anti-bank fraud department, also visited Gariahat and examined the Canara Bank ATM, which alone has generated 37 complaints. Police claimed to have collected strong evidence from the site.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Rahul Prasad Verma, a store manager who has filed a complaint of ATM fraud, said, “On July 25, I received two messages that Rs 10,000 was debited from my account. I was shocked because my ATM card was safe with me. Then I rushed to the bank, only to find out that four transactions of Rs 10,000 each were carried out. On the one hand, the government is promoting online transactions. On the other hand, we are losing our hard-earned money.”
Meanwhile, police officials said all stations have been alerted and will take action immediately if such complaints are filed.
The recent spate of such crimes have prompted many people to block their ATM cards as a pre-emptive measure.
“I have blocked my ATM card as soon as I heard about it, since I stay in Golpark area and had recently withdrawn money using my ATM card. Who want to risk their hard-earned money? I have also asked my brother to block his card,” said Oindrilla Mitra, a student.
However, bank officials have assured complainants that their money would be returned soon.
“So far, 37 people have submitted complaints. In total, approximately Rs 9 lakh has been robbed from our branch. We want to assure our customers that their money is safe. Canara Bank is a public bank and everyone who has lost their money fraudulently will get it back,” said Sukumar Darafdar, manager of the Canara Bank branch in Golpark.
Reiterating this, Tripathy said, “I held a meeting with bank officials and want to convey that bank authorities will return their (victims’) money within 7-10 days.”
What is card skimming?
Card skimming is the process by which a device is installed in front of the card slot of ATMs in order to copy the data of cards inserted by users of the machine.
“When you slide your card into the ATM, you are unwittingly sliding it through the counterfeit reader which scans and stores all the information through a magnetic strip,” said a top police officer.
The criminals who installed the device can later use the copied data to create fake ATM cards which can be used to withdraw money, the officer said.
According to police, in the recent spate of ATM fraud cases, many of the fake cards were used multiple times. One such case is that of Anindita Mukherjee, a housewife who lost Rs 40,000 in two days through two transactions. She had an account with the Golpark branch of Canara Bank.
Joint CP (Crime) Praveen Tripathy has urged customers to follow precautionary measures while using ATM cards.
“ We would request people to never share their ATM pin of any other details with anyone. If they find anything unusual, they must inform police. We also request people to… keep their eyes and ears open while using ATM cards,” he said.