THE MUMBAI Police Crime Branch busted a racket allegedly being operated by five people who duped foreign nationals of at least Rs 30 crore by stealing their bank data and cloning debit cards. According to police, in order to prevent themselves from getting tracked down, the accused used Point of Sale or swiping machines to swipe the cloned debit cards. The accused would take the swiping machines from shops in locales frequented by foreign nationals like Goa, Kullu and Manali so that the alleged fraudulent transactions would not raise eyebrows. Of the people arrested, one is a shopkeeper who had allegedly given his swiping machines to the fraudsters knowing it would be misused. Majority of those cheated were US and UK nationals, said police.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Dilip Sawant said: “We have arrested five persons who targeted foreign nationals by using their bank data to clone their cards since the past five years. These cloned cards were then used to carry out fraudulent transactions at swiping machines that they obtained from shops at places like Goa, Kullu and Manali — the well known tourist spots for foreign nationals. We suspect they have cheated people of around Rs 30- 40 crore. We have seized 51 swiping machines and 65 fake debit cards from the accused.” The police suspect involvement of a foreign national, who, they believe, provided debit card details of victims to the accused.
Assistant Police Inspector (Property Cell) Laxmikant Salunke said Zubair Sayyad (30), who hails from Bengaluru and has good technical knowledge, is the main accused in the case. Sayyad would get information about the bank account of foreign nationals via e-mail. The mail would have details like the card number, CVV number — last three digits at the back of the card — and other details, including information encoded in the magnetic strip. “Using a small machine, the accused would upload these details on the cloned plastics,” said Salunke.
Inspector R Sayyad said that once they had the cards, they wanted to use them in a way that would not arouse suspicion. The other accused Hasan Shaikh (40), a shop owner, Fahim Shora (30), Abu Bakr (45) and Mukesh Sharma (45) would then procure swiping machines from shops in areas like Goa, Kullu, Manali, Rajasthan and Delhi that usually attract foreign nationals. “We suspect the shop owners in majority of these cases were also involved in the racket. They would hand over the swiping machines to the accused. In return they would get to keep 20 per cent of the total amount,” said Sawant. The police are likely to make the shopkeepers accused in the case.
The accused would normally swipe the card just before the closing time of banks, as per international timing. “If it was a US-based bank, they would use the card minutes before the bank shut down as per the US timing. This way, the victims could not block their cards soon. By the time the bank would realise the transaction was fraudulent, the money would have gone from the account,” said an officer.
Sawant said the racket had been in operation since 2013 and that none of the accused have ever been arrested. According to police, more arrests are likely in the case.