Monday, June 23, 2008

Pune cops unearth Rs 1 crore credit card fraud, arrested four persons

Pune police unearth end a major credit card fraud by arresting a gang of four persons for cheating people and creating duplicate credit cards. As per police reports the gang is suspected to have cheated over 30 customers of Hotel Le Meridien of Rs1 crore.
The gang of four was headed by 24 year-old Asif Zaidi Mirza of Borivli, Mumbai, only a HSC pass, but technically quite savvy. The other accused, Wasim Salim Patel (21) of Sainik Nagar in Yerwada was a cashier at Chingari Restaurant in Hotel Le Meridien. The other two accomplices have been identified as Ubed Ajmat Sayyad (26) of Mumbai East and Bharat Tansukhbhai Soni (28) of Goregaon, Mumbai.

Senior police inspector Sunil Pawar said the accused used devices like “credit card skimmer” and “credit card reader” for stealing the credit card details of the Le Meridien customers, which they had purchased from a Nigerian national for Rs 60,000.

“When a customer gave credit card for paying the hotel bill, Patel used to swipe the card using the skimmer whereby the credit card details were recorded for later use,” said Pawar.

“The accused then copied these details on the magnetic strips of blank or blocked plastic cards using computer technology. In this manner, they prepared at least 33 credit cards of 27 multinational and international banks. These credit cards were circulated among the gang members, who used it for shopping costly items,” he said.

Pawar added “The fraudsters were mostly targeting customers having platinum, gold and corporate credit cards who have credit limit of about Rs 15 lakh in India”.

The fraud came into notice a few days back when Sunil Nade (33), manager of Financial Resource Management (FRM) division of Citibank’s East Street branch lodged a complaint with the Bund Garden police station.

Nade in his complaint stated that he and three of his bank customers had gone to Hotel Le Meridien on May 7 for dinner during which time the accused Soni, Asif and Ubed were also present.

The police alleged that when Nade gave the credit card for making the payment, the cashier Patel either stole the credit card details himself or passed these cards to his partner in crime for the purpose. Then they made the duplicate card with the details and used for shopping goods worth Rs 10 lakh.

Nade and the other three bank customers were shocked when they discovered that such a huge amount was withdrawn from their account without consent between May 7 and June 13. Hence they reported the matter to the police.

With a timely action, the crime branch sleuths were able to first nabbed Soni at Mumbai. Later, they arrested Asif, Ubed and Patel. Police have seized the skimmer, credit card reader, laptop and 20 duplicate credit cards.

On investigations it was revealed that Patel was working at the hotel for last three years. Asif, the gang leader, was taking as his cut 50 per cent of the money made from the fraud. “It is very easy to identify a duplicate credit card. Still some shop owners have allowed shopping through such cards. We suspect that fraudsters paid some part of their income through the racket to the shop-owners,” said Pawar, sub inspectors N V Avhad and R M Gaikwad assisted Pawar in carrying out the investigation.

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