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11 minutes, 53 messages: How Mumbai man was robbed of Rs1.83 lakh

The cybercriminal spent some of the cash to pay his Netflix and Vodafone bills

mumbai Updated: Aug 11, 2017 11:02 IST
Jayprakash S Naidu
Jayprakash S Naidu
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,cybercrime,card fraud
It is possible that the accused paid some bills or made purchases online, and saved his card details on that site. That is where the fraudster must have got them from, said a cyber expert.(HT)

Eleven minutes, 53 messages — that’s all it took for a cybercriminal to steal Rs1.83 lakh from a 53-year-old retired Indian Revenue Services (IRS) officer last week.

Police are in the process of finding out how the fraudster got the man’s credit card details.

They said the man, Sanjay Singhal, is an Andheri resident. He is a practicing lawyer and has an account in a government bank in Mumbai. On August 4, Singhal was on his way home from work when he got 53 messages from his bank between 8.03 pm and 8.11 pm, informing him that Rs1.83 lakh had been withdrawn from his account.

The cybercriminal spent the money to buy items online. He paid in euros and dollars. He spent some of the cash to pay his Netflix and Vodafone bills. He also bought equipment from a store in France.

“I had my card with me the whole time. The fraudster stole all my cash in just 11 minutes. If there is a mandatory gap of five minutes between transactions, it will help victims of cybercrime block their cards after the first transaction itself. This feature is used by the election commission in electronic voting machines,” Singhal told HT.

“I suspect that a gang is involved,” he added.

A police officer, who did not wish to be identified, said he was trying to ascertain where the money was withdrawn from.

“Singhal’s card details must have been compromised. It is possible that he paid some bills or made purchases online, and saved his card details on that site. That is where the fraudster must have got them from,” said cyber expert advocate Vicky Shah.

He added that while Indian websites require a one-time password for authentication, international websites do not make this mandatory.

Past cases

July - A lawyer from Lokhandwala in Andheri (West) lost Rs62,000 to debit card fraud last month. Her money was withdrawn in America, said police. After she asked her bank for a refund, she was told to approach her local police station, where a case was filed against the unidentified fraudster.

June - Investigations into a card cloning racket, unearthed by the Bandra police, revealed that six waiters stole the credit and debit card data of 1,000 customers. Police are in the process of ascertaining how much money they made.

May - A 23-year-old woman from a posh Andheri (West) society was robbed of Rs1.33 lakh after a fraudster accessed her debit card details. As she had her card with her at the time, police suspect that either her card was cloned or its details stolen.

April - A 32-year-old real estate developer from Oshiwara in Andheri (West) lost Rs1 lakh to debit card cloning.

March - A 35-year-old woman working as a domestic help in Mumbai lost Rs80,000 to debit card fraud after a cybercriminal cloned her card and withdrew the money in two transactions in Delhi. The woman alleged that the fraudster was able to conduct a second transaction despite her getting the card blocked.

Stay safe online

Never give your credit or debit card to a stranger.

Never give your personal details or details of your credit or debit cards to people who call you claiming to be executives or managers of your bank. Always remember that bank officials will never call their customers.

Never hand your cards over to waiters after a meal. Always swipe the card and enter the PIN yourself. Ensure that you cover the keypad with your hand while typing so no one can see what your PIN is.

Never write your four-digit PIN on the ATM card or its cover. If it is stolen, the thief has all the information he needs to withdraw your money.

As far as possible, try to keep the balance in your account to a minimum so even if your card is stolen, you will not lose much.

First Published: Aug 10, 2017 11:19 IST