Unravelling the method used by offenders is vital, says Marri Ramu

Misusing online bank accounts using fraudulently acquired information is not completely unheard of.

The Punjagutta police recently busted a gang, which pocketed an estimated Rs.1.5 crore adopting such modus operandi, by arresting 10 persons.

Mystery

Notwithstanding the arrests and recovery of a couple of lakh rupees worth property, the crucial point as to how the gang acquired information of Internet banking accounts of individuals across the country remained a mystery.

Unravelling the method used by the gang to secure personal details of net banking customers is vital to check recurrence of such frauds. Curiously, the investigators are not sure how exactly the offenders stumbled upon the personal and bank account details of the defrauded customers.

Deceit

In such cases reported earlier, different patterns of deceitful collection of information came to light. Most common among them is phishing. They would send emails with fake web pages of the bank concerned which look like genuine ones.

In the guise of updating account information or issuing supplementary bank cards for family members, the mail sender would ask the target to key in bank account details. Once the customer fills in the confidential information, the fraudster would make online transfer of money with lightning speed.

But the confession of the key accused in the Punjagutta case is startling albeit subject to confirmation. The accused, Uce of Nigeria -- acting as an agent for another Nigerian Tony operating from their country -- maintained that the latter used to send internet bank account details of the targets. How did Tony secure that classified data?

Uce claims that Tony used to hack websites of different banks in India and mail details of the account holders using which they would transfer money to their accounts. This pushed the investigators into a dicey situation. There is no evidence to confirm the hacking angle. They cannot completely ignore it either, because hacking of bank websites was reported earlier.

The possibility of the gang catching hold of details of internet banking customers of different banks raises questions about safety of online banking and poses serious threat to account holders’ interests as well. In Hyderabad, this was the first case in recent times in which suspicions arose about fraudsters securing information of online bank accounts by hacking.

Be cautious

To check re-run of such frauds, the customers are required to be more cautious about their online transactions. Equally important is police pursuing the vague leads given by the gang about obtaining bank account details by hacking and busting the remaining network of the gang across the country.