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Wanted by UK, Chile for ATM cloning, three Romanian nationals land in Mumbai Police net

Carrybag spotted in hands of an accused in CCTV footage leads police to accused.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: October 6, 2015 9:55:09 pm

Three Romanian nationals, wanted by several European countries and Chile for cloning ATM cards and breaking into bank networks, were arrested by the Mumbai Police Sunday night, days before they were to leave the country.

Accused Allen Budoi (39), Marion Grama (42) and Miu Ionel (42), were currently in India on a tourist visa and staying in a rented flat in the Pali Naka area of Bandra.

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They were scheduled to leave the country this month, with their visa set to expire. What led the police to the accused was a carrybag with a Marks and Spencer logo on it, which was seen in the hands of one of the accused in the CCTV footage while he was tampering with an ATM.

“On September 15, the V B Nagar police received a complaint from a lady, from whose account a total of Rs 36,500 were withdrawn in four separate transactions from an ATM in Kurla, and a complaint was registered. We examined transactions made from the ATM centre and found that there were four more such transactions in which other people had lost their money. Further investigations revealed that all of the victims had used a particular ATM on the Bandra Hill Road, and we probed this angle further,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti.

The V B Nagar police then obtained the CCTV footage of the ATM kiosk in Bandra for the month of September, and identified the three suspects who had used the ATM over and over again. While examining this footage, the police got the first clue.

In the footage for September 15, Assistant Police Inspector Ganesh Mohite saw one of the suspects use the ATM, leave and come back after 15 minutes. “When he came back the second time, he had a black carrybag with a Marks and Spencer logo on it in his hands. We scoured the area for a Marks and Spencer outlet, found one and made inquiries there. We found that the suspect was a regular customer there, and had even been issued a loyalty card by the outlet,” said Mohite.

Using the name and cellphone number of the suspect obtained from the outlet, the police tracked down the three accused to their Pali Naka residence and arrested them on Sunday.

“We searched the house and found Rs 28,45,500 in cash, pinhole cameras, skimmer devices, laptop computers and 497 cloned debit cards. The accuse would install the skimmer in the ATM every morning, along with a pinhole camera above the keypad to capture the PIN when it was entered by the customers, and remove it in the night. They would then use these details to create clone cards, using which they would withdraw money from the customers’ accounts,” said Bharti.

An officer probing the case said police officials from at least three countries, Chile, UK and Romania, had been looking for at least one of the three accused. “Allen Budoi was once arrested in Italy for a similar crime,” said an officer. The Mumbai Police managed to track the trio just in the nick of time as the visa of the trio was expiring in October-end and they were planning to flee India for Romania in the third week of October. The officer added, “We suspect they ended up spending a lot of money that they managed to acquire, as they would party every day in some pub or the other.”

When asked from where did they obtain the skimming device, an officer said these devices were easily available online for $50. The officer said it was difficult to block these sales as they would start selling these skimmers from other websites if one is blocked.

Apart from this, the police are also probing several such cases of ATM fraud across the city to see if the three accused are involved in those cases too, since the modus operandi is similar in all these cases.

“We will be interrogating them regarding other similar crimes across the city. Things should be clearer after their interrogation,” Bharti said.

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