The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police has reinforced the investigation of suspected East European nationals, following the spike in ATM fraud incidents in the Kathmandu Valley, reports The Himalayan Times. The investigation is mainly focused on the nationals from Romania, Turkey and Bulgaria.
CIB spokesperson SP Jeevan Shrestha revealed that, as many as 18 foreigners — four Romanians, four Turkish, four Bulgarians, four Moldavians and two Indians — involved in ATM fraud have been arrested from Kathmandu over a period of two-and-a-half years. They were found to be stealing sums of up to Rs. 8.86 million and 1326 ATM cards.
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.
CIB’s investigation comes following a 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 that surveillance of suspected foreigners arriving in Kathmandu on a tourist visa has begun right from the immigration point at Tribhuvan International Airport.
Policemen, disguised in civilian clothes or “civvies” have been scattered across the central tourist hubs like Thamel and Durbar Marg in order to keep a close eye on suspects in and around ATM booths and around their hotels as well. These areas are currently under heavy surveillance. CIB has estimated a section of East Europeans to be the key players behind hi-tech ATM skimming. The criminals install electronic devices inside the ATM kiosk to steal the secret pin codes and card details of depositors. These incidents started coming into light after many of the bank customers and foreign depositors started realizing that their accounts were drained.
“Hidden camera, false ATM keyboard, false card slot and skimmers are among other devices used by the criminals for unauthorized withdrawal of cash from ATM booths.”, said SP Shrestha.