2 Romanians held for rigging ATM machines
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2 Romanians held for rigging ATM machines

Factoring in similar instances reported from all around the country, police suspect a bigger gang is operating in India to collect credit and debit card data.

punjab Updated: Aug 12, 2018 13:57 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Chandigarh ATM money,ATM fraud,Brewmasters
(Representative Image)

In a major breakthrough in cases of ATM machine rigging in the last 10 days that left police, bank officials and local citizens baffled, the UT crime branch on Friday night arrested two suspects, both Romanian nationals, from a hotel in Vasant Kunj, Delhi.

Factoring in similar instances reported from all around the country, police suspect a bigger gang is operating in India to collect credit and debit card data, not just for stealing cash but for selling the information in international markets for online fraud, police say.

ACCUSED WORE DISGUISE

The duo, identified as Miclea Lecian Lonut and Paraschiv George Aletandru, both 37, of Brasav Romania, reportedly used disguises such as hair wigs, artificial beards and baseball caps, police said.

After reports surfaced in the city of ATM machines being rigged with skimming devices (for collecting credit and debit card data) and spy cams to record PINs, especially in Canara Bank branches at Manimajra and Sectors 17 and 35, the police were alerted to Romanian gang members being involved in the racket by Kolkata and Delhi Police.

“After scrutinising records of hotel bookings by foreign nationals, it surfaced that the two accused rented rooms at Metro Hotel in Sector 35 and Western Court in Sector 43 on August 2 and 7, respectively,” said superintendent of police (SP) crime branch and operations Ravi Kumar.

After rigging the ATMs in the city, Lonut and Aletandru went to Delhi and checked into Hotel Glitz Westend Inn in Vasant Kunj, NH-8, adjoining Shiv Murti Mahipalpur, from where they were nabbed by the UT crime branch men on Friday night.

Both have been sent to three-day police remand.

Interrogation revealed that the two had entered India as tourists and came to Chandigarh to rig the ATMs, leaving the city on August 5 to return again on August 7 to collect the devices.

INTERNATIONAL CRIME RACKET

“The objective of the accused is yet to be ascertained but so far looking at the way a gang is spread out across the country, the data was being collected to be sold in the international market at a higher price for card cloning and to used be used for online shopping or withdrawing money intentionally,” Ravi Kumar added.

The devices procured by the accused were also from international markets and their passports were also freshly issued.

WHY CANARA BANK ATMs?

Cops said the main target of the criminals was Canara Bank ATM machines as these were of an older make in which the spying and data recording devices could be installed easily.

Meanwhile, Canara bank officials in Chandigarh have written to their head office and asked for new cards to be issued for customers whose bank data was compromised and requested that a ‘hot list’ be made to ensure their PINs were changed and the data protected.

First Published: Aug 12, 2018 13:54 IST