Mumbai: 26-year-old uses cloned credit card to buy mobile phone, held

  • Manish K Pathak, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Sep 12, 2014 22:20 IST

A 39-year-old woman from Andheri lost Rs. 40,000 last month, after her credit card was cloned and used to buy a high-end mobile phone from an electronic store in Khar (West). The accused was arrested recently.

The woman realised her card had been cloned, after she received an alert on the purchase on her mobile phone. She then got in touch with the bank officers, who blocked the card and gave her the details of the store where the card was swiped. The store owners told her that the buyer, Vishwajit Chetni, 26, had submitted an identity proof while making the purchase. The woman then approached the Khar police and lodged a complaint.

“Based on her complaint, we alerted all branches of various electronic stores across the city, Thane and Navi Mumbai. The CCTV footage that captured the suspect’s image, too, was circulated,” said Sukhlal Varpe, police inspector at Khar police station.

Consequently, when Chetni approached the Belapur branch of the same electronic store to make a purchase using another cloned card, the staff identified him and alerted the police. “During investigation, we learned that Chetni was involved in several card-cloning cases and have cases against him in Mahim, Kasar Road police station in Thane and Belapur. He may be a part of a bigger card-cloning gang,” he said.

“The details of the woman’s card were also used to make a cloned card in the name of Subhash Singh. They also made a fake driving licence in this name,” said Varpe.

During questioning, the police learned that Chetni was paid commission on the purchases, while the mastermind, known as John, clones the card and is on the run. “He used to get a 10% cut on using the cloned cards. The mastermind stole the card data using a skimming device and made cards using fake names,” said another officer.

What is card cloning? How is it done?
Credit cards are cloned using skimming devices, which appear similar to the machines used to swipe debit/credit cards while making purchases. A card could be stealthily swiped across a skimming machine, soon after swiping it on the actual payment machine. The machine duplicates the information on the card and can then be transferred to a duplicate cloned card that is used for fraudulent transactions

Skimming at ATM kiosks
Another way in which a card can be cloned is when you insert it card in an ATM. Skimming devices are fixed on the card-reading slot. However, the person will need both your card data and PIN to access your account, for which spy cameras are installed at the kiosk

Things to remember
* Credit card customers should not give their credit card to any one for any verification

* While giving credit card to shopkeepers, hotel waiters, receptionists, petrol pump attendants, make sure the card is swiped only once and in front of you

* Look for extra devices attached to the ATM, especially the card slot. These may be put to capture your data. Inform security /bank immediately if any such device is found and use another ATM

* Do not share the credit card information with any one

* While doing online shopping, make sure the website you are accessing is authentic

* Always check both the face and the slot on the ATM before putting your card in. If you can't see the light flashing around the card slot, do not insert your card. Most skimmer devices will obscure light

* Avoid using ATMs which have odd scratches, marks, and adhesive or tapes

* Some skimming machines are hastily installed and can be spotted because they don't appear properly attached to the machine

* Be wary of ATMs in tourist locations -- these are popular spots with skimmer criminals

* Before using an ATM, examine nearby objects that might conceal a camera; check the card slot for a plastic sheath before inserting your card

* PIN capturing devices can be disguised in false panels on the flat sides and top of the machine, or within an entire false keyboard that records impressions from your fingertips

* While entering your PIN, stand close to the machine and hold your hand over the keypad or screen to make it more difficult for a person or camera to watch you

* Keep an eye on suspicious movements of people around ATMs. Beware of strangers trying to engage you in conversation

* Once you complete your transaction, before leaving, be sure that the 'Welcome Screen' is displayed

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