CIB steps up vigilance to check ATM fraud

Kathmandu, November 14

The Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police has stepped up surveillance of suspected East European nationals, especially those from Romania, Turkey and Bulgaria, in Kathmandu Valley following a spate of ATM frauds.

As many as 18 foreigners — four Romanians, four Turkish, four Bulgarians, four Moldavians and two Indians — involved in ATM fraud have been arrested with Rs 8.86 million, USD 73,580, Euro 64,175 and 1,326 ATM cards from Kathmandu over a period of two-and-a-half years, said SP Jeevan Shrestha, CIB spokesperson.

Many others are suspected to have managed to leave Kathmandu with tens of millions of rupees they withdrew from ATMs before the concerned banks and police got any clue. Of late, CIB had held Vitality Vasilievich Nekit (passport number 383173200), a Bulgarian national, from a Thamel-based hotel on Friday. He was found to be stealing money from ATM of various banks.

CIB’s surveillance comes in the wake of surge in ATM card skimming frauds involving foreign nationals linked with international syndicate of debit card information theft and withdrawal of cash from the bank accounts of depositors. A police official said surveillance of suspected foreigners arriving in Kathmandu on tourist visa began from the immigration point at  Tribhuvan International Airport.

Police in civvies are keeping a close eye on suspects not only in or around ATM booths but at their hotels too. Tourist hubs like Thamel and Durbar Marg are under tightened surveillance. CIB has established a section of East Europeans to be the key players behind hi-tech ATM skimming. The racketeers instal electronic devices inside the ATM kiosk of banks to steal the secret pin codes and card details. Many of the bank customers, mainly foreign depositors, came to know about the fraud after their accounts were drained.

Hidden camera, false ATM keyboard, false card slot and skimmers are among other devices used by the racketeers for unauthorised withdrawal of cash from ATM booths,

said SP Shrestha. Police have conceded that hi-tech banking offence was putting hard-earned money of depositors at high risk.