On Friday, Hyderabad police busted an international credit card cloning gang and arrested five people. This arrest came as a joint operation between Rachakonda Special Operations Team and Cyber Crime cops.
The five suspects arrested are Ayyappan (30) from Chennai, Challa Bhaskar Rao (43) from Visakhapatnam, Padiga Raghavendra (32) from Ongole, Pallecherla Vamshi Krishna (25) from Kothapet and Sidhula Bhaskar (45) from Vanasthalipuram.
They include an IT engineer, a research scholar, and some businessmen.
Reports state that the suspects cloned credit cards of foreign nationals in countries such as Australia, the US, and the UK and defrauded them of about Rs 30 lakh from their accounts.
They allegedly installed the data they stole from the foreign nationals onto promotional MICR cards available at shopping malls and transferred the money into their accounts.
Unfortunately for them, their scheme came to an end on Friday when the police got hold of them. 15 businessmen who were also members of this gang managed to escape capture. Efforts are however being made to arrest them.
16 Point of Sale (POS) machines, credit and debit cards, electronic gadgets and a laptop were seized by the police upon the arrest.
According to Mahesh M Bhagwat, a Rachakonda police Commissioner, the busted gang stole data of credit cards of foreign nationals via numerous networks and the cloned them. What followed next was them swiping the cloned cards at the POS machines owned by the businessmen who were also in on the dubious scheme and if the amount was credited in the account of the businessmen, they would then share it on 60-40 percentage basis.
“The gang used to purchase data of foreign credit card holders from various websites, including dark web and darknet, and clone the cards before swiping them through POS machines to withdraw money,” stated Commissioner Bhagwat
The gang made use of POS machines at various places like Hyderabad, Guntur, Kakinada, and Chennai.
Commissioner Bhagwat also stated that Ayyappan learned about the cloning of credit cards after he met with people who were into the same thing.
“He purchased data from credit card holders, especially those in the USA, the UK, and Australia, by contacting data providers through the darknet. The procured data was then verified through an application called BIN Checker. The cards would then be cloned using a device purchased from e-commerce websites over the darknet,” Commissioner Bhagwat stated.
“In this manner, the gang swindled nearly Rs 30 lakh till now,” he added.
He went ahead to say that: “The five men met each other through social networking sites and started to clone the cards.”
Ayyappan was a commission agent but was not so pleased with his earnings. He later joined ICQ, an instant messaging app, as a member where he joined various groups to learn about the cloning of credit cards and procured the cloning device (MSR 606) from an e-commerce website, Commissioner Bhagwat added.
“After getting the data, the gang used to check it on the Bin Checker application, verified the details and then used to send the details to Raghavendra, who, in turn, used to write the same on empty magnetic cards by using MSR 606 magnetic card writer,” he stated.
To withdraw the money, the group made numerous contacts with businessmen who owned POS machines in Kakinada, Guntur, and Hyderabad. According to Commissioner Bhagwat, their scheme was blown open when the Cyber Cell team was alerted by a bank of a suspicious transaction through one of the POS machines.
Vamshi Krishna was usually in charge of collecting the POS machines from different merchants through his contacts by giving 20% as commission on the total settlement.
The gang is being remanded in police custody.
Hyderabad has of late been in the news for many wrongdoings especially cybercrime and dark web drug related. In August, The prohibition and excise sleuths arrested an ex-scientist who formerly worked for NASA on drug peddling charges.
In that same month, the Rachakonda police arrested four suspects for ordering drugs on the darknet. “On a tip, SOT sleuths apprehended Gabriel at Yapral. On questioning, he disclosed that he was having financial problems and that’s why he indulged in drug trafficking by procuring the contraband from Goa, Mumbai, Delhi and supplying them at pubs through his known contacts,” stated the Rachakonda commissioner of police, Mohan Bhagwat, after the arrest.