Tuesday, December 3, 2013

3 youths with unique modus operandi held for ATM fraud in city

GHATKOPAR ATM THEFT Constable Nivrutti Khetele realised something was amiss after ` 10,000 was withdrawn from his account without his knowledge at the ATM

MUMBAI: Three youngsters, all residents of Govandi, have been arrested for cheating ATM users in Ghatkopar of their money by tinkering with the machine and withdrawing money from their accounts.

The three accused — Akhtar Shaikh, 22, Hyder Shaikh, 26, and a 17-year-old — were arrested last week, on Thursday.

Officers at Pant Nagar police station said the trio, all college students, used a unique modus operandi — they would stick adhesive tapes on either the hash (#) or star (*) key of the machine, which would prevent a customer from completing the transaction as the machine would hang.

The police suspect that the minor accused would pretend to queue up behind and see the PIN being entered. Later, after the customer left, they would remove the adhesive, re- enter t he PIN and withdraw money.

The ATM centre belongs to a nationalised bank based in Ghatkopar (East).

The police and cyber experts are convinced that “there is a missing link” and are investigating the case to determine the exact modus operandi.

The ATM fraud at Ghatkopar came to light after Rs10,000 was siphoned off from the account of a police constable attached to the anti-narcotics cell after he used the ATM centre.

On November 1, constable Nivrutti Khetele went to the ATM centre in Ghatkopar (east). “Khetele could not complete his transaction as the machine hanged. He went to another ATM to withdraw money and that’s when he realised that there had been a previous transaction of Rs10,000 that he had not made,” said a police officer from Pant Nagar police station.

Khetele then decided to keep a watch on the ATM centre, which he did for a month after he was cheated. On Thursday, with help from colleagues, he finally picked up the three accused after he spotted them loitering suspiciously near the ATM.

The accused, Akhtar Shaikh, 22, Hyder Shaikh, 26, and a 17-year-old, are all students and residents of Govandi.

The trio were handed them over to the Pant Nagar police who are investigating the case. While Akhtar and Hyder were produced before a local court and have been remanded in police custody till December 5, the juvenile has been sent to a remand home.

The police said the CCTV camera fitted inside the ATM centre of the nationalised bank was not working. “Investigations have revealed that another person too was cheated in a similar manner. We are investigating to determine how many people were cheated,” said Suresh Nirmal, senior inspector, Pant Nagar police station.

The police have seized an ATM card, whose details are not visible, from the accused.

SURESH NIRMAL, senior inspector

3 Dec 2013
Hindustan Times (Mumbai)
HT Correspondent htmetro@hindustantimes.com

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