Britons cheated of millions in Indian credit card racket

April 2nd, 2008 - 8:59 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) A Britain-based NRI is on the run even as five of his accomplices have been arrested here for duping at least 21 British nationals of millions of rupees in Indian currency by obtaining their credit card details, police said Wednesday. This international racket was unearthed Tuesday when sleuths of Delhi Police Crime Branch held five people - Vivek Prasad, 27, Nafees Ahmed, 37, Raju Khan, 27, Brijesh Yadav, 27, Dildar Hussain, 32, - in south Delhi and seized 21 fake credit cards from them.

Police said an NRI, identified only as Loknathan who keeps shuttling between India and Britain, has been operating the scam for the past three months and is presently said to be in Britain.

At least 21 British nationals were cheated of Rs.3 million in Indian currency after the gang obtained information encoded on their credit cards issued by many British banks including Abbey National, Alliance And Leicester, Barclays Bank, Hali Fax, Lloyds TSB Bank, National Westminster Bank and The Co-Operative Bank.

“Loknathan used to swipe his victim credit card on a skimmer, a small portable device like a pager that records all the information encoded in the microchip of the card,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Anil Shukla.

“The skimmer captures the information and re-encodes it on the magnetic stripe of a plain plastic card or stores the information in the device itself so it can be downloaded later for illegal purposes,” Shukla added.

Loknathan used to visit India often and here he managed to obtained credit cards of various banks - ABN AMRO Bank, Citi Bank, HSBC Bank, ICICI Bank, IDBI Bank, Indian Bank Maestro, ING VYSYA Bank, SBI Bank and Standard Chartered - on fictitious identities to reload them with the stolen information.

The entire process of stealing and reloading the information on a different credit card is known as ‘cloning’.

Shukla said Vivek, who worked as business development executive in a firm in Hyderabad, procured the fake credit cards from Loknathan.

“Vivek then collaborated with Ahmed, who used to run a call centre for the HDFC Bank but he has been unemployed since the past one month, and his recruits to run these cards on swipe machines in Delhi,” Shukla said.

“They took the owner of the swipe machines into confidence and used the card depending on its credit limit. The owner of the swipe machine charged five-six percent of the transaction as commission and then paid the rest of the amount to Ahmed,” he added.

Ahmed and his henchmen were keeping 10-20 percent of the amount, passing the rest to Vivek, who in turn kept 60 percent and sent the remaining amount to Loknathan through money transfers.

Police said the genuine credit card holders in Britain were receiving outstanding credit bills. They contested the inflated bills as they had never left Britain and transactions showed the credit cards had been used in India.

“The genuine owner does not pay and the loss was either borne by the bank or by the insurance company as the case may be. Since the fraud occurred in India no one pursues the matter from UK,” Shukla said.

Police said they were ascertaining Loknathan’s travel details to find out his address and other details.

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