THE Cyber Crime Cell of the Pune City Police has arrested a Nigerian man who is allegedly the key accused in a racket to clone debit and credit cards. Police have identified the accused as Eremhen Smart (33), a resident of Supragiri College area in Bengaluru. Police have also arrested his alleged aide Irshad Sattar Solanki (28), a resident of Bandrekar Wadi in Jogeshwari, Mumbai.
Last month, police had arrested three Nigerian men — identified as Ogbehase Fortune, Bashar Dakin Gari Usman and Ifeanyi Mike Bbaeze — while investigating a case registered with the Khadki police station, in which Rs 67,000 was withdrawn from a person’s bank account without his knowledge. While some money was withdrawn from an ATM, the rest of the money was transferred to another bank account.
A team led by Inspector Manish Zende of the Cyber Crime Cell zeroed in on a person seen in the camera footage from the ATM kiosk. Police also got details of the account to which the money was transferred, and it was revealed that the account had been used to withdraw cash from other ATM kiosks.
Following leads obtained during the investigation, police arrested Nigerian national Fortune from Pimple Gurav, and his alleged aides Usman and Mbaeze. Police also recovered eight cell phones, 20 debit cards and eight blocked cards that had been cloned, Internet dongles, pen drives and a laptop from the trio.
Soon, police launched a search for the key accused — Smart — who was found to be changing his locations frequently. On August 10, police laid a trap and arrested Smart in Bengaluru. They recovered four cell phones, two laptops and Rs 1.65 lakh in cash from him.
On August 14, police arrested Smart’s “aide” Irshad Solanki, who allegedly helped him withdraw money from ATMs and “arranged” bank accounts, in which the money was transferred using cloned debit and credit cards.
A court has remanded the duo to police custody till August 17 for further investigation.
“We are now searching for four more persons, all Nigerian nationals, involved in this racket. We are also looking for a Mumbai-based person who helped the accused commit the crimes,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police, Cyber Crime Cell, Sudhir Hiremath, during a press conference on Wednesday.
Hiremath said that the “same gang of Nigerians had committed 11 crimes in Bengaluru and four in Pune”. The four cases in Pune are registered at police stations in Khadki, Chinchwad and Hinjewadi
The investigation revealed that Smart ordered ATM card readers and debit card writer machines online and used them to clone the debit and credit cards.
Police said the accused used ‘skimmer’, an electronic device that steals the information or identity of the card. Skimmers are mounted in front of the slot in ATM machines where the card is inserted. So, while the user thinks he is inserting the card in the slot, the card is also passing through the skimmer and details of the debit or credit card is being stolen.
The accused then used pinhole or spy cameras installed in ATMs to learn the customer’s PIN number, said police, adding that at times, they also stood behind the customer when the PIN was being typed. The stolen information is then written on other cards and the card is cloned. The customer gets to know of the fraud only when the money is withdrawn, said police.
However, police have not recovered any ‘skimmer” from Smart and the other accused arrested in the case. Police suspect that the accused have destroyed the skimmers.
The investigation has revealed that the ‘gang’ had obtained information about several debit and credit cards in Pune, Mumbai, Bengaluru, parts of Tamil Nadu and Goa, said police. The accused allegedly made cloned cards and used it to withdraw and transfer money to different bank accounts. ‘Key accused is a science graduate’
DCP Hiremath said Smart, the key accused, is a Computer Science graduate who had come to India on a medical visa in 2014. He extended his visa later, but it expired in 2016. He was arrested by Bengaluru police in January, but was released on bail. According to police, Smart enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, and he also used to send some money to Nigeria through