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Nov 14, 2019-Thursday



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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

Indian ATMs are easy targets

A senior police officer said the seven arrested Romanians have revealed that their network is spread across Romania, Australia and the United Kingdom.

delhi Updated: Mar 30, 2019 08:12 IST
Karn Pratap Singh
Indian ATMs are easy targets
Indian ATMs are easy targets(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

When Lupoi Emil,40, was arrested on Wednesday while installing a data skimmer and keypad on an ATM, Delhi Police had a suspicion that Emil could be from Romania. For, he is the seventh person from that country to be arrested in Delhi for skimming data from ATMs and cloning cards over the last two months.

A senior police officer said the seven arrested Romanians have revealed that their network is spread across Romania, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Deputy commissioner of police (south) Vijay Kumar said, “When we asked Emil why they choose to operate in Delhi, he said debit cards and ATMs in our city are not tamperproof. Their security features are not as advanced as those in European countries and the US.”

Another investigator said the accused disclosed that many from Dolj, a county of Romania on its border with Bulgaria, are trained in skimming and they visit India to commit the crime.

The seven Romanians revealed that their contacts in Birmingham and London provided them with skimming devices, miniature cameras and duplicate keypads. “ A person based in Birmingham provided them the equipment while their contacts in London trained them,” the officer said.

DCP (north) Nupur Prasad said each member has a specific task. “The women search high footfall areas on the internet and identify unguarded ATM kiosks. They wear masks while installing the devices (so as escape CCTV cameras). They revisit the kiosks to remove the devices,” she said.

HT sent an email on Friday evening to the Embassy of Romania in India asking if they were aware of Romanians arrested in Delhi for ATM skimming crimes. Till late Friday night, there was no response.

In 2013, Romanian police had busted 100-member strong skimming racket that had caused damages of more than 2 million euros around the world, including the US, the UK, the Dominican Republic,Germany, Japan, Jordan and Nepal.

Skimming has made headlines since at least the end of the Cold War and emergence of the eastern Europe bloc, particularly Romania and Bulgaria, as information technology powerhouses. Before the fall and execution of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989, Romania excelled in education and mathematics. It is among the top 10 countries with the largest IT talent pools in the world.

But it is this talent coupled with a high poverty rate, as compared to the rest of the EU, that is being exploited by eastern European crime gangs, tempting Romanians to take the illegal and dangerous — but for them easy — route to making a quick buck, experts say.