Things that make you to Think
The story, published at Xtra, reveals the cunning story of card theft and the involvements of foreign nationals complicating the issue
On May 31, the Agrabad branch of City bank in Chittagong filed a credit card fraud case when the bank failed to collect the shopping bills from two credit card holders. They also came to know that the card holders were not involved in those transactions.
However, one card holder was a Canadian citizen who never visited Bangladesh but the person’s credit card was charged without his knowledge for purchasing different kinds of products from various shopping malls in Chittagong which induced the bank as liable for paying to the retailers. Another was a businessman in Chittagong, Jiaur Rahman, who once got a text message saying that he just purchased an IPS from Rahim Afrooz showroom when he did not buy one. The bank immediately blocked his credit card as he lodged a complaint with the bank authority.
On behalf of the City Bank, the assistant vice president and senior manager, Shahid Uddin Chowdhhury, filed the complaint mentioning goods worth Tk 11 lakh had been purchased illegally from different shopping malls by using a fake credit card in the last few months.
On the other hand, Mosharaf Hossain, who studied information technology in England in 2009, made an attempt to withdraw money by using a fake credit card at Standard Chartered ATM booth at Jamalkhan and Laldighi areas in Chittagong. He however, failed to cash the amount as the bank authority blocked the transaction for all credit cards on information provided by security guards.
Later, Hossain came to Dhaka and tried to withdraw the money from different ATM booths of BRAC bank, Dutch-Bangla Bank, UCBL bank and EBL bank but he failed on all the occasions as the BRAC Bank authority blocked the transaction for all credit cards when booth security guards warned authorities of suspicious acts.
On June 1, a detective and criminal intelligence team, led by additional deputy police commissioner (West) Mashiur Rahman and senior assistant commissioner Towhidul Islam, arrested two criminals including Hossain, who were involved in the fraud, in a special drive in Dhaka.
The other arrestee is Mohana Punnu Tharai, a Sri Lankan-born British national, who was arrested from Shahjalal International Airport area while Hossain was arrested from Mirpur 10.
Of the detained two, Mosharaf could not complete his studies and left England in 2011 for Sweden. Later, he went to Italy and then to Denmark. Then he returned to Sweden from Denmark but the Swedish police returned him to Bangladesh as he tried to stay in Sweden illegally. Tharai, an IT specialist, who lived in Canada for five years, later came to England and has been working the last 11 years as a dish cleaner.
‘Hossain had a target to withdraw about Tk 10 crore by using fake and duplicate credit cards,’ says Mashiur.
On the other hand, the Panchlaish Thana police in Chittagong first arrested Abdur Rahman in charge of the fraud case filed by the City Bank. Rahman’s leads took the Dhaka metropolitan detective police to the airport from where they arrested Tharai.
Tharai is an accused in the fraud case including two other; Jonathan Jena, also a British national, and Abdur Rahman, said Panchlaish Thana sub-inspector Masud Parvez. Among them, Jena came to Bangladesh few months ago and already returned to England, he added.
The ADC Mashiur says, ‘These three people are involved in an international gang. They prefer Bangladesh as the security system of credit card in our country is easy to break and they could grab a huge amount of money in Bangladesh including other countries in this sub-continent.’
According to intelligence, several gangs like them are involved in such fake credit card fraud.
However, ‘The activities of such culprits suggest that they are organised. They, however, were able to capture at least 40 customers’ information. The ATM card skimming by others illegally, happens a lot elsewhere in the world, say bank officials, but ‘for the first time this has been identified in our country of such system of hacking customer’s data and later withdrawing money by using fake credit cards,’ says Zeeshan Kingshuk Huq, head of communication & service quality at BRAC Bank.
The deputy commissioner Masudur Rahman of DMP media and public relation said that Hossain tried to demonstrate his con skills with a fake credit card in different booths in Chittagong and Dhaka but was not successful.
Masudur tells Xtra that they did not find any connection between Mosharaf and Abdur Rahman’s gang but both have been involved with the same and newly formed trickery.
The police recovered from them few debit and credit cards, foreign currencies, some equipments of manufacturing cards such as a card reader, a Near Field Communication (N.F.C) device, a high powered spy camera, a laptop, card reader and writer, nine magnetic blank strip cards, fake ID card of IT officer of BRAC bank and some forged documents.
Breaking the security system
Mosharaf told the DB police that he learnt the trick from a Bulgarian young Rozen Ili, who was educated in IT from Homeless centre, when Mosharaf was in Denmark before going to Sweden.
There are three basic steps of withdrawing money by using fake and duplicate credit card. Firstly, by swiping the customer’s debit/credit card through card reader, they hacked all information of the customer. Secondly, by an extremely powerful spy camera, they steal the customer’s password/pin code. And lastly, with the help of a card reader and writer they manufacture duplicate credit cards by transferring customer’s data into a blank card’s magnetic strip. Later they withdraw money using the acquired password.
Mosharaf told the intelligence agency during a primary interrogation that he first made a forged ID card of different kinds of bank’s IT expert and maintenance engineer. Showing this ID card to the booth security guard he entered into the booth. Then he stayed in the booth and informed the coming customers, by showing his identity as a bank official, that a double door system will be started for security up-gradation. The first door will open after swiping the credit card, and the second one will open automatically. Thus for the security up-gradation every client needs to swipe their own card into his (Mosharaf) N.F.C device.
He also said that, this way he hacked all information of a credit card holder, adding that, at the same time, he set up a high powered spying camera above the rooftop from ATM machine so he can copy the password.
After acquiring all such information and password, Mosharaf manufactured a new and duplicate credit card at his home. He transferred all data of acquired card’s information into a blank card’s magnetic strip by using card reader and writer with the help of special software. The blank card then turned into a debit/credit card and became function for withdrawing money by keying in the right password at the ATM booth.
Weakness of the security system
According to a bank official, around 60 lakh people are using debit/credit card at present in Bangladesh.
There are two phases of security system in all banks’ credit card which consists of a magnetic strip that hold all information of a customer and a password that is only known to the card holder, says the BRAC bank official Zeeshan.
The security system however, is not adequate to protect the card holder from fraud, says ADC Mashiur.
Foreign nationals involved in crime in Bangladesh stay in the country in excess of their permissible period.
He also points out that there is no police enquiry system in our foreign service in airport. For this the police have no record regarding their period of stay in Bangladesh, hotel, possible visiting areas and other necessary information.
The main problem is that the police do not have any legal rights to conduct and enquiry about the visiting foreign nations, says Mashiur, adding that, ‘we do not know whether a foreign national has any crime record or any involvement with any international gang.’
In the last few months, several foreign nationals were arrested by the law enforcement in charge of mostly fake notes and equipments for manufacturing fake notes.
But this time the law enforcers arrested a British national who is involved in fake credit card fraud case which has become a major concern to the police.
Mashiur said that the suspects could not withdraw any money from any ATM booth but they used their trick while shopping using fake credit cards. Later they made profit in cash by selling the purchased products to someone else.
He suggested that the bank should install multiple phases of security system.
On the other hand, bank official Zeeshan urged to increase awareness among relevant stakeholders of the banking sector, adding that, the government should also come forward for strengthening the existing law and its implementation to ensure exemplary punishment to the criminals.