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Alwar police arrests BCA dropout who tampered ATMs in 8 states

A resident of Palwal, Shakeel Ahmed is a BCA dropout and kingpin of a gang that has reportedly tampered over 1000 ATMs (automated teller machines) in Rajasthan alone.

jaipur Updated: May 19, 2018 20:55 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Rajasthan,ATM tampering,Arrested
Shakeel Ahmed, 26, the kingpin of a gang that tampers with  ATMs for stealing cash, in Alwar police custody. (HT Photo)

Alwar police has arrested a 26-year-old from Haryana for tampering thousands of ATMs in eight states, including Rajasthan, and stealing cash.

A resident of Palwal, Shakeel Ahmed is a BCA dropout and kingpin of a gang that has reportedly tampered over 1000 ATMs (automated teller machines) in Rajasthan alone.

“Ahmed has been running a gang for the last 7-8 years when he learnt from a friend how to tamper with ATM machines. He then taught the same to some of his friends and made a gang. He has confessed to the crime,” said Satyanarayan, sub-inspector (SI) of Alwar’s Bhiwadi Phase 3 police station.

Ahmed is the eldest among five siblings. He was pursuing a BCA course 7-8 years back but dropped out and set up his gang. His father used to drive taxi in Saudi Arabia. But for the last few years, he is at their home in Palwal and not working.

Police said Ahmed is under remand and is being interrogated. He will be produced before a judge on Sunday. While there are no cases against Ahmed in Rajasthan, police are inquiring if there are cases against him in other states.

“The total number of gang members and their details has not yet been ascertained. Once the investigation is over, we will give out the details,” Satyanaryan said.

He said the gang used to first go on recce and identify ATMs which were either located in isolated places or did not have a guard. They operated in a group of 2-3 people at one time. They targeted persons who were not very educated or from rural backgrounds.

Satyanarayan said “One member of the gang would first go into the ATM vestibule, and hang the machine by pressing two buttons simultaneously. Then they would wait for a user to come in and withdraw cash.

“They would tell the users that the machine is not working and would try to help him. One member would press 2 buttons against which no select options were listed on the ATM screen. This would hang the machine. While the user operated the ATM, the gang member would either see the PIN or ask the user directly,” Satyanarayan added.

As the user operated the ATM, the hung machine would not dispense the cash. But once the customer gave up and left, they would withdraw the money as the transaction was still in process.

The gang used a car to hit many ATMs at a single go. They would map out the route beforehand, target the identified ATMs and then leave from the area. The car used by them would sometimes be hired, while at other times they purchased a vehicle, police said.

“They used various modes of transport to travel from one state to another, including buses, trains and planes. They wore branded clothes and accessories so that they do not look suspicious while operating an ATM. They often stayed in expensive hotels so as not to attract attention,” Satyanarayan said.

The gang would generally operate in Hindi-speaking states, police said. “They have operated in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Nagaland. The maximum number of thefts was done in MP as some of the gang members had relatives or homes in the state. They would retire to these places to lay low for a few days after committing the crime,” Satyanarayan said.

The gang generally operated between 5th and 10th of every month as people operate ATMs after receiving their salary, police said. Every month, they would execute 8-10 incidents of tampering and robbery in different states.

First Published: May 19, 2018 20:55 IST