High-tech Romanians leave banks off balance

Published: 11th August 2016 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th August 2016 05:00 AM   |  A+A-

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The recent cashpoint fraud in Thiruvananthapuram made Keralites wake up to a new danger - ATM ‘skimming.’ But several countries and a few states in India have already been reeling under this high-tech crime - a Romanian speciality.

European Union’s law enforcement agency Europol reported that Romanians have become masters of siphoning off cash from ATMs and have  expanded their tentacles across the globe. US-based cyber expert Al Pascaul recently termed Romania a “serious hotbed of cybercrime.”

High.jpgManoj Abraham, IG, Thiruvananthapuram Range, said experts in Cyberdome found that roughnecks in Romania and Bulgaria have high-end encryption devices to decode details of customers’ bank accounts.

“Romania has become a global hub of cyber crime. In fact, the Romanian Government has serious internal cyber security issue. Most of the citizens are experts in making high-end encryption devices. It is learnt that they could siphon off money from banks by working remotely,” Abraham said.

He shared the experience of a victim from Europe who was duped of a whopping `2.5 crore by a Romanian racket. Abraham said the racket was also able to erase the withdrawal limit of the customer and take away the full amount deposited in his account. The police officials said Romanians view India as a soft target and have already struck ATMs in some other states, including Tamil Nadu.

On March 1, 2016, Irimia  Ionut, 33, a Romanian, was arrested by the Chennai police on charge of fixing a device inside an ATM in Guindy. Police said it was an attempt to hack the account details of customers. They said a three-member Romanian gang, which came to Chennai in the guise of tourists, was behind the episode.

Kerala Police will seek the assistance of  their Chennai counterparts to check whether the ATM fraudsters who struck in Thiruvananthapuram have any links with the group that operated in TN. Several incidents of skimming were reported from Mumbai last year and Romanians were behind them as well.


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