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UK village in Indian fraud web

world Updated: Jun 19, 2008 00:43 IST

More than half the people living in a village in Worcestershire have become victims of an international credit card fraud. Money is being withdrawn from their accounts in India, Sri Lanka, Denmark and the Dominican Republic.

This is the latest in a series of such complaints in which consumers across Britain have found money withdrawn from their accounts in India.

Wychbold, a sleepy village in Worcestershire, has 700 homes, of which 400 have had money withdrawn from their accounts abroad.

The local police believe their cards have been closed and details e-mailed to locations abroad from where they were used to withdraw money ranging from 50 pounds to 1,000 pounds.

In May, a journalist at Bournemouth found money withdrawn from his bank account in Chennai. Nearly 500 others in the area suffered the same fate.

British security officials have been grappling with card-cloning, by which card details are surreptitiously recorded during transactions at petrol pumps and supermarkets, and e-mailed across the globe for illegal withdrawals from ATM machines. Garages and petrol pumps have been the most vulnerable to such scams.

Teresa Tutin, 50, a homecare assistant in Wychbold, said: "Apparently I've bought something at a shop in Liverpool and worst of all apparently I've used a cashpoint in India recently. I can tell you that I haven't done either. So there is clearly something very sinister going on."

Another victim is Shaun Colley, whose Visa debit card details were used to withdraw 200 pounds in Germany. He said: "I thought I'd been unlucky, but everyone I spoke to in the village had suffered the same fate".

The local police recently took items from a local garage for examination.

Villagers have depended on a local petrol station managed by one Khalid Khan for years. Khan said he was doing all he could to help police investigation.

He said: "I have been in this business for 18 years and I have been in Wychbold for seven of them. I have never experienced a problem like this before. I'm so upset about what has happened to all our customers. I can assure them that it has nothing to do with us and we will do everything we can to help catch the people involved."

Detective sergeant Neil Austin, who is investigating the case, said: "We have had a number of further reports from members of the public who have found discrepancies with their bank accounts. Officers are in the process of contacting each card holder that has reported such activity and investigations are ongoing".