Using your card to pay for your restaurant bill? You could lose lakhs

New Delhi: Paying your food bills in restaurants through debit and credit card? You might want to think twice before you do that as cyber criminals, in nexus with restaurants staff, are stealing card data by cloning it and then they are siphoning money from customer’s account.

Sumit Jhigran

The revelation came after a team of Uttar Pradesh Special Stask Force (STF) arrested a man identified as Sumit Jhigran from a five-star hotel in Lucknow who confessed that he has misused debit and credit card of thousands of customers living in Delhi-NCR, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Mumbai and other cities by cloning it with the help of restaurant staff.

The mastermind had earlier worked with a call center where he was trained about card cloning by another colleague. He trained himself further with the help of YouTube videos.

Explaining the modus-operandi, Triveni Singh of UP-STF told DB Post, “This gang of plastic money cloners has duped thousands of innocent card users. The mastermind delegated the work at each level. The first level of this crime begins at restaurants, bar, and hotel, where the staff gets Rs 2,500 for making a copy of a debit card.”

Restaurant staff keep card skimmers (a device that illegally collects data from the magnetic stripe of a credit or debit card and helps in cloning) and as soon a customer pays the bill through his card they swipe it on the machine and the customer’s card data gets stored. Then the staff cleverly get the pin of the card using pin-hole cameras or memorise it when the customers enter it on the machine. Card skimmers are available on popular online-shopping website for just Rs 17,000.

The stolen card data is then collected by other accomplices, who create a clone of the card by feeding customer’s card data on blank magnetic strip cards. These blank cards are easily available online for just Rs 10-15.

“Once the clone of debit and credit card is created, it is further distributed to a new set of people who start withdrawing money from different locations. Till the time the crime comes to light,the damage is done. The gang has hired members for each level of crime on a commission basis so that nobody knows the entire channel,” Singh said.

The mastermind of the gang was based out of Uttar Pradesh but he intentionally targetted people from mega cities like Delhi-NCR, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Mumbai so that he can trap high-value card users.

“It is advised to not handover your debit and credit card to anyone. Even at a restaurant, make sure that the card is swiped in front of you and only on a swiping machine to avert falling in the trap of cybercriminals,” Singh said.

The mastermind has made several crores by duping people. Cops are yet to ascertain the number of people he has targetted. Action will be taken against the restaurants, bar and hotel staff who were involved in the crime, the police said.

Shashank Shekhar

About Shashank Shekhar

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Shashank Shekhar works as a Deputy Editor for DB Post. He specialises in investigative, terrorism, internal security and policy-making related stories. He has an active interest in tracking cybercrime, financial fraud, technology, automobile and latest trends. He can be reached at: Follow him on Twitter @shashankrnq