Following the arrest of credit/debit card and online banking fraudsters, which led to the recovery of a lot of stolen data belonging to bank customers in India and abroad, city police are now probing deeper into the key element of the cheating – the source of the data.
Different sources of access to stolen data are being examined including a few Russian websites from where four culprits had purchased card data to commit an offence in January 2011.
Sources with the Central Crime Branch have identified at least four strategies in which the fraudsters have illegally obtained the card data, including copying data using thin-film skimmers inside ATMs, trading of data among local fraudsters and members of international groups and purchasing online through some websites that has posted stolen data for sale.
The case involving Russian websites was first reported mid January 2011 when a famous textile shop in T Nagar allegedly suffered a loss of over Rs. 20 lakh. “A probe revealed that four men had purchased credit card data of U.S. customers posted on a few Russian websites and used it to order silk saris,” Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police, CCB, M. Sudhakar.
The amount paid online by suspects to the complainant was frozen by the bank payment gateway following complaint from the overseas customers. However, the saris were delivered, leaving the complainant with a loss, he added.
Peter (29) from Tiruppur, Kaviyarasu (27) and Yuvaraj (27), both from Coimbatore, and Irfan (26) from Kolathur were arrested on January 31, 2011 in connection with the case, sources added.
On December 13, three Nigerian nationals were arrested for using stolen card data of NRI customers of Axis Bank and shopping online for goods worth more than Rs. 25 lakh. The suspects were taken into eight-day police custody last week and are being interrogated on the source of the credit card data used to commit the fraud.
“Online fraudsters often have links with overseas bank fraud rackets from whom they would purchase data for a fee. The Nigerians is suspected to have obtained the data through this channel. We are questioning them and are hopeful to get crucial information,” Dr. Sudhakar added.
According to A. Radhika, Deputy Commissioner of Police (CCB), bank fraudster Umesh alias Shorty, who was recently booked under the Goondas Act, told investigators that he had ordered the card data online and received it personally from an unidentified person in Parry's Corner.
“The data included that of Chennai and foreign bank customers. We have seized the data from him and his accomplices and alerted the banks and the respective foreign embassies to block the cards,” she added.
Umesh also told the police that a foreign national part of an international racket must have come to Chennai and used the skimmers inside ATMs here to copy the data and posted them online for sale.
A case of skimmer use was also reported in Mumbai in September in which fraudsters used the device in an ATM belonging to a private bank there and siphoned close to Rs. 1 crore by using cloned cards made from the stolen data. Mumbai police managed to recover the thin-film skimmer device worth $ 2,000, but the culprits escaped. It was the vice-versa in the Chennai case.