ATM trick: Bank cheated of of Rs 1 cr

Police custody

The Cyber Crime Cell of Mohali, in a joint operation with the Kerala Police, claims to have busted an inter-state gang, first of its kind in the country, which duped a Kerala-based bank of over Rs 1 crore, adopting a unique method of withdrawing money using ATM cards (see box alongside).

A total of five people have been arrested. All from upper-middle class families and not very well-educated, the accused are residents of Ludhiana, Kajheri (Chandigarh) and Kangra (Himachal Pradesh). The five are members of one gang. Two more gangs, claims the Cyber Cell, are yet to be arrested.

Sumit Gupta, the mastermind, is a resident of Ludhiana. Having suffered losses in his business, he had gone into hiding for over a year. Then he learnt a unique method to defraud banks.

Other four arrested are Sunny, brother of Sumit, also a resident of Ludhiana; Kuldeep, a resident of Kangra; Harpreet, a resident of Kajheri; and Ramandeep alias Ishu, a resident of Ludhiana.

Ramandeep and Sunny have been arrested by the Kerala Police, which has nearly two dozen FIRs registered against the gang members, who used to withdraw money from the ATMs of Federal Bank of India using ATM cards of private banks.

The withdrawals were not normal. Explaining the modus operandi, Pradeep Kumar, SSP, Cyber Crime Investigation, Mohali, said the gang members used to demand a withdrawal of Rs 10,000 from ATM of Federal Bank. But they used to take only Rs 9,900 and leave the last Rs 100 note inside the ATM. As a matter of policy, the ATM machine would retrieve the note, which would flash a message of "failed transaction" in the software system of the private bank whose ATM card was used for withdrawal.

Interestingly, cashing in on this message (failed transaction), the miscreants used to call up the helpdesk of private banks demanding refund of Rs 10,000. Apprehending legal action and poor customer response, the private banks used to immediately debit the said amounts in the accounts of the accused.

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