As more people are becoming dependent on use of automated teller machines or ATM banking to avoid mass contact amid the corona crisis, certain organized gangs are embezzling money from many of the clients by forging account information.
The anti-crime elite force Rapid Action Battalion has unearthed such gang recently after an overnight drive in different parts of the country including in the capital Dhaka.
Several teams of RAB-2 and RAB-8 had arrested thirteen members of the gangs recently, said RAB headquarters.
They were embezzling money using a special tactics. They call ATM card holders using some cloned phone numbers which usually begin with the plus (+) sign.
Rab sources said that at least five to six such groups are currently active across the country amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Most of the members, mainly the masterminds of the forgery groups are young and experts in Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
They arrested were identified as Nazmul Jamadder,19, Hasan Mir, 18, Ibrahim Mir, 18, Towhid Hawlader, 23, Mohon Sikder, 30, Parvej Mir, 18, Soohel Mollah, 26, Delwar Hossain, 35, Syed Hawlader, 20, Rakib Hossain, 24, Mohammad Ali Miah, 26, Polash Talukder, 35 and Imon, 25.
RAB teams also seized more than Taka 14 lakh in cash, 31 mobile handsets, two laptops, 120 mobile SIMs, one router and a TV card from their possessions. Among the arrestees, nine were masterminds. The main accused - Mohon himself embezzled around Tk one crore alone.
RAB officials said transactions thorough mobile banking, ATM debit and credit cards have significantly increased in the recent weeks due to the coronavirus crisis. Most of the clients are not interested to go outside.
The syndicate members are taking advantage of such situation.
After receiving several complaints, RAB teams started working on it and made the arrests.
During the primary interrogation, the arrested criminals admitted their involvement in the forgeries. At least 30 criminals work under a mastermind. Usually they commit the crimes after dividing into five separate groups.
Members of the ‘Hunter Group’ collect information of the clients from the field level. They collect numbers of the officials of the different banks, mobile banking companies and agents. They later hand over this information to their masterminds.
Members of the ‘Spoofing Groups’ clone phone numbers of the customer care and bank officials. As a result, when the forgery leaders call at the phone numbers of the customers, they see the same numbers of the bank staff and customer care.
Thus, they fall into their trap very easily. Members of the spoofing group charge Tk one thousand for spoofing each number.
In the third stage of the forgery, members of the fake customer care group go into action. Around twenty members talk loudly at a single room to make a real customer care environment to trap the clients. The criminals misguide the targeted persons by creating background noises of people talking.
Masterminds themselves lead the gangs. In guise of the customer care staff, they steal passwords and verification codes of the clients. Their associates steal money from the accounts of the clients using these passwords and verification codes. In the fourth step of the forgery the gang members withdraw the money.
In the last stage, watchmen work for the safety of the gang members. They inform instantly, if they see movement of any new people or law enforcers in the areas. They are paid on per hour basis.
Masterminds get 50 percent of the money withdrawan, their associates get 30 percent and rest of the earnings go to other members of the group including hunter groups.
Lieutenant Colonel Sarwar Bin Kashem, Director of the Legal and Media Wing of RAB said, “We are investigating whether there are any bankers involved with the gangs.”
He urged people not to receive any phone call which starts with +.