Monday, September 15, 2008

State police arrested city’s first credit card ‘skimmer’

Ahemdabad police arrested Kalpesh Patel for credit card frauds worth Rs 1.5 lakh, though police believes that the fraud amount is much bigger.

Kalpesh is a young corporate executive who did purchases at a prominent departmental store on the SG Highway and made payment by credit card for his purchases worth Rs 5,000. By chance, the credit card swipe machine went offline and the transaction was completed to avoid customer inconvenience.

Much after the customer left the store the credit card company realized that they have been cheated. The CVV number used to complete purchase through credit card proved to be fake! Many more fake transactions were done in July, August and even in September and the card swipe machine would be always on the blink.
Satellite police station officials have finally caught the credit card fraudster. He turned out to be 32-year-old, Kalpesh Patel. Satellite police station officials told Kalpesh has been sent to judicial custody on Monday. He was interrogated by police officials and private sector major bank employees to know how he did it.

The cops are now more worried about the technique used by the fraudster. "Kalpesh could actually make the card swipe machines go offline. It is still not clear how. In the online mode, the machine sends transaction information, real time, to the central server which keeps a watch over all transactions simultaneously. Being offline, this interaction with central server did not take place and thus Kalpesh could make the purchases even with a wrong CVV number," said the police officials.

A private bank detected fraud when there was periodical ‘failure’ in the swipe machines of the credit card in several joints including petrol pumps, restaurants and shopping malls. The bank on further investigation found that the cards were used by impersonators.

"The transactions varied from Rs 300 to Rs 5000. As the amount was not very alarming, few of the card owners realized the fraud. In the primary investigation, we came to know that around 11 cards were misused in this fashion," said a Satellite police station official.

JJ Patel, inspector of Satellite police station, told TOI press person that Kalpesh has been booked for criminal breach of trust and fraud and forgery. Cop informed that he has been sent in judicial custody on Monday. "We have called upon experts to understand his modus operandi. As per primary information, he procured credit card database in electromagnetic format and copied it to some other credit cards. He then used these duplicate cards to make purchases," Patel said.

Police suspect there might be more people involved with Patel in this racket. "We are hunting for those who provided him the credit card details of other users, who him the know-how for making duplicate cards and making the swipe machine go offline," said police investigators.

The technique of credit card transaction

Usually swiping machines are connected to a leased line working on GSM or CDMA technology. The telephone line connects the machine to the main server of the bank and the service provider - Visa or Master Card. When credit card is swiped, the machine sends the information to the server that verifies the transaction. If the online mode is not available, the establishment can use offline mode after inserting three digit CVV code. Mostly the offline mode is used only for customers' convenience. In case of offline mode, the data is then sent to the server when the machine is back online.

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