Two held on charge of ATM fraud in Kochi

The police have busted an inter-State gang which is suspected to have stolen more than ₹10 lakh from various ATMs in the city. They have arrested Ashif Ali, 26, and Shahid Khan, 30, both belonging to Alwar and Bharatpur respectively in Rajasthan. The theft was allegedly carried out by tampering with the machines.

The police said that the duo stole money from the ATMs of the State Bank of India (SBI) in Ponekkara, Elamakkara and Palarivattom on December 25 and 26. They left for Rajasthan after the heist. The chances of more persons involved in the crime cannot be ruled out, they said.

The police launched a probe after the bank authorities reported the loss of money. The gang was found to have targeted ATMs operated by the SBI and they had around 44 debit cards secured in the name of their relatives and friends with them at the time of the arrest.

V. U. Kuriakose, Deputy Commissioner, Kochi, said on Wednesday that the accused locate the power unit of the ATM machine first after entering the cabin. The money is withdrawn using the debit cards. They used to shut down the power unit immediately after the cash is released from the machine, he said.

The police said that the power was switched off to ensure that the withdrawal was not reflected in the software of the ATM. However, the withdrawal will be registered in the account concerned.

The gang will then lodge a complaint before the bank claiming that they could not retrieve the money from the ATM, but the amount was deducted from the account owing to the technical error in the machine. Mr. Kuriakose said that the bank used to pay the money in five days, when such a complaint is received.

The police identified the accused based on the CCTV installed at the ATMs. Their contact number, home address and Aadhaar cards were recovered without much delay as the two had taken a bike on rent from a private firm. The investigating team went to Rajasthan after getting a clear picture and recorded their arrest.

The arrested admitted that they had stolen about ₹1.15 lakh from the ATM in Ponekkara. They had also targeted ATMs in other parts of the city. The police said that the duo had stolen over ₹10 lakh. Some of the banks may not have yet reported it before the police, it is learnt. The investigating team said that the gang would have carried out similar operations in other parts of the country too.

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Printable version | May 27, 2022 10:50:35 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/two-held-on-charge-of-atm-fraud-in-kochi/article38293032.ece