In 2015, Mumbai witnessed many cases of ATM skimming where devices were installed on ATMs illegally to steal the information of cardholders. The police team investigating the cases noticed an uptick in ATM cloning cases in the Kurla and Bandra areas of the city and began analysing CCTV footage from ATM cameras when they chanced upon a fortuitous clue, a shopping bag held by one of the accused, that helped them crack a case and arrest a trio of Romanian nationals.
According to investigators, multiple gangs operated on a similar modus operandi. The accused inserted a card reader over the ATM’s card slot and a pinhole camera focused on the keypad. This enabled them to access information of anyone using the ATM, including data from their magnetic strip and their four-digit ATM PIN. This information would later be used with a fake card to withdraw money using the victims’ PIN.
An investigator of V B Marg police station, who had been part of the probe team in 2015, said that after an increase in ATM cloning cases was reported in Kurla and Bandra, the police began analysing CCTV footage of all the cameras installed in the nearby ATMs.
In footage from one such camera at Hill Road in Bandra, the police zeroed in on a suspect who had covered his face with a handkerchief.
One clue from the CCTV footage was that the suspect was seen carrying a shopping bag from a famous multinational departmental store situated nearby. Investigators approached the store to get details, matching the description and date of the incident.
The police learnt that one of the accused had bought innerwear from the store. A probe also revealed that the accused was a member of its loyalty club and had used a loyalty card while shopping on the day of the incident. The police then managed to get the contact details and based on call data records, traced their residence, which was also in Bandra.
Aulin Budoi, Marian Grama and Miu Ayonel were arrested in 2015 and booked on charges of forgery and cheating under the Indian Penal Code. The accused allegedly came to the city on tourist visas.
After a search of their residence, the police found nearly 500 debit cards, SIM cards, skimming equipment and other belongings, including laptops. The police also recovered over Rs 28 lakh in cash.