Hyderabad: Two Romanians, who allegedly swindled Rs 35 lakh by skimming and cloning about 2,000 debit cards, were arrested by the Cyberabad Cyber Cell police here on Tuesday. Police said the gang had chosen Hyderabad as their third target after Delhi and Mumbai.
The arrested persons were identified as Vasile Gabriel Razvan (37), and Buricea Alexandru Mihai (24), both natives of Craiova in Romania.
The skimming racket came to light after the Cyber Cell police received a complaint from M Anil Bhargava, a resident of Kukatpally. He lost Rs 1 lakh from his ICICI bank account on May 4, police said, adding that 44 such complaints were received in recent times.
Cyberabad Police Commissioner VC Sajjanar said that the gang comprised four persons, of which two, Ticu Bogdan and Costinel Puica Eugn Marian, were absconding.
The prime suspect, Razvan, hatched a plan to skim debit cards and chose India as his target. Sajjanar said he came to India along with Mihai in December last year.
“Initially, they targeted ATM kiosks in Delhi and Mumbai and made illegal transactions of Rs 9.50 lakh. Later, they shifted to Hyderabad and targeted 45 debit card holders. During their five months here, they collected data of 2,000 debit cards and swiped money from 600 cards,” he said.
Bogdan and Marian were experts in fixing or installing skimming machines and cameras to ATM machines. Before executing the crime in Hyderabad, Razvan got Bogdan and Marian to fix skimmers at four ATM centres in the city.
“Bogdan and Marian came here in February and stayed till the end of March. The skimmers were fixed in ATM centres at Mehdipatnam, Kukatpally, Yousufguda and Krishnanagar,” Sajjanar said.
After the duo did their part, Razvan and Mihai withdrew money from eight ATM centres, all of which were in different spots in Maharashtra.
The suspects were caught from a residential apartment in Gachibowli. Police have seized 196 skimmed cards, six camera panels, one MSR Machine, six ATM card skimmers, two external hard disks, seven mobile phones, two passports and a laptop, besides Rs.35 lakh from them.
The two were produced before court while efforts are on to nab the absconding two suspects.
Gang took just 90 seconds to fix skimmers
The Romanian gang took just 90 seconds to fix the skimming machines in ATM kiosks, before they looted bank accounts using cloned debit cards.
According to the police, Ticu Bogdan and Costinel Puica Eugn Marian played a major role in fixing the skimming machines, which are card readers that steal data from debit cards, and cameras, which record the PIN numbers typed by victims on the keypad in ATM machines.
According to the officer, Bogdan would fix the skimming machine and camera while Marian would remove it once the job was done.
“The machine and camera would be kept in one ATM for only 24 hours considering the capacity of the camera’s battery. After that, Marian used to remove them and return them to Bogdan,” he said, adding that the skimming machines contained a memory card which saved the entire details of the card and then used to make duplicate cards in Delhi or Mumbai. Using the PIN numbers recorded by the camera, they would use the cloned cards to withdraw money.
The suspects targeted ATM kiosks which did not have security guards and mostly those that were used by card holders of different banks. After withdrawing money, the suspects approached the Western Union Money Transfer branches in Hyderabad, New Delhi and Mumbai to convert the stolen currency into Euros.
The officer said the suspects were planning to leave the country and had booked flight tickets too. “They were planning to leave the country on May 23,” he said.