The mystery behind a series of ATM frauds - illegal withdrawal of money from customers' accounts - was solved on Friday when the police arrested an engineering student, who had attempted to withdraw money from the accounts of nearly three dozen people and succeeded in 12 incidents.
Addressing a press conference, superintendent of police - south, Anshuman Singh said that Ataullah Khan alias Danish, 19, a second-year engineering student from Gaya in Bihar, had been arrested for illegally withdrawing cash from accounts of customers visiting ATMs.
Around Rs. 6 lakh in cash was recovered from him. He had also bought a car, an Enfield motorcycle, an Apple iPad and other gadgets with the stolen money. Singh said that Khan generally struck at places that had two adjacent ATM machines and would insert a stick into one of the keys, mostly, the asterisk key, at a machine, which would halt operation.
When the next customer entered the ATM chamber and keyed in his PIN, the screen would go blank. Thinking that the machine was out of order, the customer would go to the other machine. After the person would step out, Khan, who had kept a watch on the person, would go to the first machine and continue the person's transaction with the details already keyed in by the customer. This mostly happened at older machines where transactions are not halted after a stipulated period of time.
Additional superintendent of police (ASP) Dharmvir Singh added that the accused was studying mechanical engineering and had told his family members that he helped students get admission in colleges to earn the money.
The police said that Khan was quite good at discerning the PIN of a person just by observing the person's finger movements, which also proved useful in continuing the transaction later. Often Khan didn't succeed because he tried to withdraw more money than was available in the person's account. Thus, he had so far succeeded in cheating 12 persons though police hope that during interrogation he may reveal more details.
The accused was caught on the basis of CCTV footage. His photograph was captured in cameras installed in various ATMs, which helped the police nab him. Police sources said that the financial condition of Khan's family is not too sound and he often sent them money.