HIMACHAL PRADESH has reported five cases of wireless bank card cloning this year in which hackers used wireless devices to clone ATM cards from a distance, cyber police said on Tuesday.
The five cases were reported from the Inter State Bus Terminals at Shimla, Solan, and Kangra, a total amount of Rs 80,000 was siphoned off from the victims’ bank accounts.
“Although the stolen amount so far is not huge, cyber security experts have a new challenge ahead of them. Gone are the days when hackers attached cloning devices or skimmers to the ATM machines. They are now using wireless technology which steals debit and credit card data without any physical contact,” said Additional Superintendent of Police Narvir Singh Rathour.
He said wireless cloning is done using a device called GSM Data Receiver Skimmer, which is being sold online in India by many sellers for around Rs 73,000. It is small in size and portable, and can be easily kept inside a bag or pocket.
Even from several metres away, the device receives all credit/debit card information when someone is swiping their card on a point of sale (POS) machine or at the ATM terminal, and the received information is stored in a built-in memory card which can collect 25-27,0000 data records at a time, Rathour said. The information can then be downloaded by connecting the device to a computer.
“If the criminal is using the wireless skimmer from 10 metres away, chances are high that it would not be captured on any cameras installed around the point of transaction, and no one would notice it,” he said.
The police have issued an advisory to the public to use radio frequency identification (RFID) blocking ATM card covers or RFID protected leather wallets to guard against skimming.
‘CM’ wants your help
Cyber fraudsters are also trying to dupe netizens in Himachal Pradesh by sending emails posing as the chief minister of the state and demanding money on some pretext or the other.
According to cyber police officials, several people in the state have received emails which fraudulently depict the sender’s name as ‘Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur’.
Shimla resident Mohan Lal Verma, who received one such email asking him if he was available, replied to it thinking that it was sent by Thakur. Under the guise of the CM, the sender then said that he is in a meeting but needs to get some work done.
“I urgently need you to run a quick task for me… I need you to purchase some Google play gift cards… I can’t do that right now because I’m currently in a very crucial meeting. Please let me know if it’s possible to get them right now, so I can tell you what amount I will need. I will reimburse you. Thanks,” the sender replied.
Upon reading this, Verma got suspicious and lodged a complaint with the cyber crime police station. A police official said a fraudster tried to cheat Sujanpur MLA Rajinder Rana in a similar way, but Rana, too, got suspicious and alerted the police.
An official said that the origin of some of these fraudulent mails has been traced to Africa. Some fraudsters are also posing as personnel in the armed forces while interacting with their victims. Officials said that a Chamba resident recently lost Rs 50,000 while trying to buy a second-hand car via OLX after the seller posed as a personnel from the armed forces. The fraudulent seller sent him pictures of a fake Army identity card and canteen card to gain his trust, and the victim transferred the money to him but the car was never delivered.
“Cyber criminals are posing as people in credible positions or institutions to gain the trust of gullible netizens,” said the official. The number of cyber crimes reported to the state police has witnessed a sharp rise this year, and nearly 2,000 cyber complaints were lodged with the police till July 31.
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