Monday, June 2, 2008

More credit card frauds traced to India

FRAUDS : More credit card frauds traced to India

Prasun Sonwalkar in London


May 31, 2008


More cases of international credit card fraud with links to India have come to light in Britain, even as authorities refused to rate the problem from Indian cities as very high.

In a latest incident, a British journalist discovered that money was withdrawn from his bank account in Chennai this week, while nearly 500 others in Bournemouth suffered the same fate.

British security officials have been grappling with card-cloning, by which card details are surreptitiously recorded during transactions at petrol pumps and supermarkets, and emailed across the globe for illegal withdrawals from ATM machines.

In the last one year, several cases have come to light when British consumers found that money was withdrawn from their accounts from Mumbai, Chennai and other parts of India.

Petrol pumps have been the most vulnerable to such scams. In Bournemouth, south England, Gavin Haines, a feature writer for the Daily Echo, a leading local newspaper, was alerted by his bank after money was withdrawn from his account in Chennai last Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

"I can't afford to lose 400 pounds on a weekend. It was my only bank account at the time and they didn't have access to money. I've now got to go through the claims process," he said.

However, Mark Bowerman, an official of the Association of Payment and Clearing Services (APACS), the UK trade association for institutions delivering payment services, told PTI: "India is not in our top ten list for this type of fraud".

The list is headed by the United States, and followed by Italy, Australia, France and Spain. Apart from Haines, nearly 500 people have complained of similar withdrawals overseas in scams apparently linked to the Malthurst West View Service petrol station in Bournemouth.

The location was raided by the local police this week. Among the countries from which the attempts have been made to withdraw money are Malaysia, Egypt, Canada, Portugal, Australia, China, India, the Philippines, Ghana, the USA, the Netherlands and Taiwan.

In 2007, the police received more than 200 similar complaints about the Murco service station in Southbourne Grove, Bournemouth. Three men were arrested but were later released without charge. The garage is under new management.

Card-cloning, also known as skimming, involves retrieving card details and pins (personal identification numbers) to withdraw money fraudulently from people's bank accounts.

In spring last year, thousands of motorists were hit in a skimming scam involving garages across England. The Sri Lankan government claimed the money was being used to fund Tamil terrorist activity on the island. Officers from the cheque and card unit of the Dorset Police's economic crime unit are liaising with APACS to investigate the latest allegations.

Mandy White, a resident of Charminster, said that nearly 2,000 pounds had been taken out of her partner's account in 19 transactions in the Philippines on Sunday. APACS spokeswoman Jemma Smith said customers' details were often sold over the Internet at the touch of a button.

She added: "Under the UK banking code, if you are the innocent victim, you can expect to get your money back".

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