ATM fraud: Three arrested with 66 cards, swipe machine in Pathankot

An interstate gang involved in ATM fraud was busted with the arrest of three of its members in Pathankot on Wednesday. The gang members would approach victims on the pretext of helping them withdraw money from their account, and swap their ATM cards upon learning their PIN.

The accused – Ramesh Kumar, Pareen and Sikander of Hisar in Haryana – were arrested during a special operation. As many as 66 ATM cards, 19,000 cash, and a swipe machine were seized from the accused. Their SUV was also impounded.

Swindled lakhs over 2 years: Cops

Police said the gang had been active in different states over the last two years and had defrauded hundreds of people of their hard-earned money.

Senior superintendent of police (SSP), Pathankot, Harkamalpreet Singh Khakh said, “To curb ATM card frauds, a special cyber-security drive has been launched. The accused would travel across states and target ATM booths without a security guard. They stole several lakhs from victims’ bank accounts.”

The case

The incident took place on August 8 when the complainant, Kanta Devi, had gone to withdraw 2,000 from an ATM near Sarna station with her daughter.

“While my daughter was inside the ATM, the accused entered the booth, and swapped the card on pretext of offering help. After leaving the ATM, my daughter noticed that she was holding a different card with somebody else’s name embossed on it,” the complainant said.

“We saw the men, who had offered to help withdraw money, flee in a Maruti Ertiga SUV with a Haryana registration number (HR 61 D 8358),” Devi said, adding that after sometime they received notifications from the bank saying a transaction worth 75,000 had been conducted, and 38,000 had been withdrawn from her account.

SSP Khakh said after scanning CCTV footage collected from multiple places across the city, a red alert was issued to apprehend the accused. “A joint team of CIA (Crime Investigation Agency) and the Sadar Pathankot police station intercepted the vehicle at a checking point at Kotli Nahar, and during the search recovered the cards and card swipe machine from the occupants,” he said, adding that the accused had confessed to their crimes.

The accused said earlier they only withdrew money from the stolen ATMs, but after they entered into a 60:40 partnership with Parveen Kumar of Haryana, he arranged for a swipe machine, and they started initiating transactions on the cards as well.

‘Carried out transactions worth 2.31 lakh on swipe machine’

“The accused had carried out transactions worth 2.31 lakh through the swipe machine,” said the SSP, adding that a detailed probe will be held to determine the total amount of money the accused had swindled.

The accused admitted that they had withdrawn lakhs over the last two years and had used a portion of it on their sister’s wedding arrangements, and the remainder to fund a luxurious lifestyle. They hired vehicles for 2,000 a day to ferry them across the state.