A total of five people have been arrested. All from upper-middle class families and not very well-educated, the accused are residents of Ludhiana, Kajheri (Chandigarh) and Kangra (Himachal Pradesh). The five are members of one gang. Two more gangs, claims the Cyber Cell, are yet to be arrested.
Sumit Gupta, the mastermind, is a resident of Ludhiana. Having suffered losses in his business, he had gone into hiding for over a year. Then he learnt a unique method to defraud banks.
Other four arrested are Sunny, brother of Sumit, also a resident of Ludhiana; Kuldeep, a resident of Kangra; Harpreet, a resident of Kajheri; and Ramandeep alias Ishu, a resident of Ludhiana.
Ramandeep and Sunny have been arrested by the Kerala Police, which has nearly two dozen FIRs registered against the gang members, who used to withdraw money from the ATMs of Federal Bank of India using ATM cards of private banks.
The withdrawals were not normal. Explaining the modus operandi, Pradeep Kumar, SSP, Cyber Crime Investigation, Mohali, said the gang members used to demand a withdrawal of Rs 10,000 from ATM of Federal Bank. But they used to take only Rs 9,900 and leave the last Rs 100 note inside the ATM. As a matter of policy, the ATM machine would retrieve the note, which would flash a message of “failed transaction” in the software system of the private bank whose ATM card was used for withdrawal.
Interestingly, cashing in on this message (failed transaction), the miscreants used to call up the helpdesk of private banks demanding refund of Rs 10,000. Apprehending legal action and poor customer response, the private banks used to immediately debit the said amounts in the accounts of the accused.
However, each time, the Federal Bank used to approach the said private bank seeking refund of the Rs 9,900 (in one case), the private bank would refuse the refund showing the generated slip of “failed transaction”. As a result, the Federal Bank of India started suffering losses. The Federal Bank, as per the police, has suffered a loss of over Rs 1 crore by such transactions in the past seven to eight months.
The police have recovered 545 gms of gold ornaments; 121.800 gms of silver ornaments; Rs 2,72,000 in cash; 206 ATM cards; eight mobile phones; one Verna car, an Innova and documents pertaining to purchase of property amounting to Rs 14 lakh from the accused.
The mastermind operated like an employer keeping a number of subordinate criminals. He would give his flunkies small amounts to open bank accounts and get ATM cards. When they surrendered the ATM card and password to him, he paid them Rs 2,500 per card.
In order to evade arrest, the accused visited different states to make such transactions. The accused have disclosed that they had made withdrawals from ATMs in Kerala, Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh.
It was only after the Federal Bank of India was duped of over Rs 1 crore that it smelled a rat in such transactions and approached the Kerala Police. The Kerala Police sought help from the Mohali Cyber Crime and visited Mohali to arrest the two accused, Sunny and Ramandeep. “The accused are extremely intelligent, though not qualified or well-educated. Sumit was earlier working for another gang, which needs to be busted,” said the SSP.
The accused used to get various bank accounts opened in private banks and obtain ATM cards. The ATM cards were used to withdraw money from ATMs of Federal Bank of India. In one transaction containing withdrawal of Rs 10,000, the accused would deliberately leave the last note (eg Rs 100) inside the ATM machine. Since the machine generated and flashed a message of “failed transaction”, the accused used to claim the refund of entire Rs 10,000 from the private banks. While the private banks used to refund the amounts, the Federal Bank of India was denied the refund of the actual amount withdrawn (Rs 9,900) because the private banks used to rely on the “failed transaction” slip/message.
Partners in crime
Sumit Gupta, around 30: Had suffered losses in his T-shirt manufacturing business in Ludhiana. Got in touch with Harpreet a year back when he came to Chandigarh.
Kuldeep, 34: Had opened 26 accounts in his, his wife’s and friends’ name in various private banks.
Harpreet, 28: Harpreet and Kuldeep had worked in a call centre in 2008.
Sunny, 24: Brother of Sumit. Was concerned over the losses suffered by his brother.
Ramandeep, alias Ishu, around 30: Resident of Ludhiana.
Source: Financial Express