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Beware of skimmers at ATMs

B. Madhu Gopal
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Over half-a-dozen cases reported in Vizag during the past one year

The next time you go to at an ATM centre, make sure that the slot is perfect by checking it with your fingers before you insert your card into the machine.

There are chances of an ‘identity thief’ inserting a ‘skimmer’ into the slot to capture the information stored in the magnetic strip of your credit or debit card. Don’t be under the wrong impression that ATM centres in the city are safe. Over half-a-dozen skimming cases had occurred at ATM centres in the city during the past one year and five accused have been charge-sheeted by the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell (CCIC) of the City Police.

30,000 knoched off!

K. Laksmana Murthy of Nakkavanipalem went to the Corporation Bank ATM near LIC Building on April 19 and found that his card was not working. He went to the bank and was puzzled when the officials told him that there was no balance in his account. He came to know later that an amount of Rs.29,600 was withdrawn from his account by some unidentified persons without his knowledge.

On April 8, 2012, Behara Bhavani Ganesh (52) of Venkojipalem found that an amount of Rs.49,500 was withdrawn from his account through the ATM while the card was with him. Similarly, on April 9, 2012, Varanasi Ravi Kishore (35) went to the HDFC Bank ATM at Dwarakanagar and came to know that some miscreants had withdrawn Rs.16,500 from his account through the ICICI Bank ATM at Latur in Maharashtra on the same day.

These cases are only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more but by the time card users notice the discrepancy, their account could have already been drained by the culprits at a remote location.

The prime accused in these cases, Polavaram Kamal Kumar (28) of Guntur district, who studied in the UK, had settled at Kondapur in Hyderabad. He and two other accused -- Zameen Shaik of Mumbai and Ajay Lal Mathur of Delhi – had confessed to indulging in skimming operations at the ATMs in Vizag and taking the technical help of Alex Rosenberg of Russia in this regard. “The accused set up a skimming lab at their Motinagar residence and procured all required ATM/POS skimmers, magnetic card writers, printers, CCTV cameras, keyboards, liquid plastic material, microchips and laptops and started preparing credit and debit cards for their unscrupulous operations,” CCIC Inspector B.V. Venkateswara Rao told The Hindu .


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