They were living like kings; driving Audis and Chevrolets and splurging money which was not theirs. By the time the Cyberabad Police finally caught up with them, they had skimmed off Rs 4-5 crore from unsuspecting credit and debit card holders across the country — from Hyderabad to Delhi, Kolkata to Bangalore.
The gang, including two web designers, skimmed and cloned credit and debit cards using a complex modus operandi of hacking, international IP addresses, internet hawala, spying and electronic data theft. Five members of the gang have been arrested.
Among the sophisticated electronic equipment recovered from them are: 15 point of sale (electronic draft capture) skimming machines, one ATM data skimming machine, ATM dome cameras, electronic magnetic writers, card printers and ATM pin pad skimmer machines. They even placed spy cameras at ATMs which picked up the PINs of users. Police seized Rs 5 lakh, an Audi and a Chevrolet from them. Cyberabad Police Commissioner D Tirumala Rao said the gang had actually set up a lab at Motinagar, Hyderabad, complete with sophisticated equipment worth over Rs 50 lakh.
The racket came to light last May when people who visited two malls complained that huge amounts were withdrawn from their accounts.
Initial investigations revealed the customers had been lured to become members of a “Make-A-Deal” scheme by paying Rs 50 through their credit or debit cards. The scheme offered free recharge of Rs 250 on their mobile phones. When customers swiped their cards, the encrypted data was skimmed off by the sophisticated machines.
Police identified gang members as P Kamal Kumar, a web designer from Hyderabad, Ammar Ali of Tamil Nadu, Zameer Shaik, a web designer from Mumbai, Ajay Lal Mathur, a hotel waiter from Delhi, and S Jamal of Kishangunj, Bihar. They said Kamal Kumar was the kingpin.
“They confessed to having taken the guidance of one Kronik of Canada regarding the collection of data of card-holders, skimming and cloning process. They then imported the required equipment from him,’’ said Rao.
“Kronik received his share of about 30 per cent of the total amount,’’ an official said.
The gang deposited the stolen cash in 22 different accounts across the country. They then shifted operations to Ranchi where they floated a Petro Card Scheme offering concession for servicing, denting and painting of cars. More than 500 people fell for this and swiped their cards.
Meanwhile, the gang dumped Kronik, changed tactics for a while and