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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Mumbai: gangs infiltrate banks to hack accounts

Mohamed Thaver, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, July 28, 2013
First Published: 02:32 IST(28/7/2013) | Last Updated: 02:35 IST(28/7/2013)

If you cannot log into your bank account online despite repeated attempts, there is reason to worry. It has come to light that fraudsters are using a software to block a customer’s web access around a week before they hack into the account and siphon off the funds.

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What’s worse, they have infiltrated call centres and IT departments of banks to glean information about accounts which have not seen activity over a long period, which are then targeted.

The modus operandi came to light during investigations conducted by Gamdevi police after the account of M/s Madhusudan Worldwide Pvt Ltd at the Peddar Road branch of Punjab National Bank was hacked over three days until October 28, 2011, and Rs. 12.27 lakh was transferred to several PNB accounts across the country. Some of these accounts were created using fake documents, police probe revealed.

The police subsequently arrested eight persons, among them one of the main accused, Johnson Shetty, who provided an insight into how the syndicate operated. A letter written by a Gamdevi senior inspector to PNB, a copy which is with HT, stated: “During interrogation, he [Shetty] confessed there are members of gangs who work in call centres/IT departments of banks like PNB, whose job is to collect information on accounts which have potential for theft and this is passed on to the internet gang and hackers.”

The letter goes on to add: “…the hackers working in IT departments/call centers of banks have the necessary expertise to hang [block] the account so that no transactions can take place, and reactivate them when they want to transfer and siphon off the money.”

Pravin Parikh, a finance manager at Madhusudan and the complainant in the case, told HT, “The bank has told us it was due to an error on our part that our password has been compromised. The police later found it was because of security lapses on part of the bank. But the bank still refuses to accept their mistake and refund our money.”

To escape detection, the accounts are hacked late at night or on public holidays, according to an officer investigating the case. The firm’s account was also hacked on a public holiday, on Diwali. The police filed the charge sheet in the case last month.

When contacted, a PNB spokesperson said the bank will look into the issue.


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