Friday, June 17, 2011

Pakistan’s first ATM skimmer(hacker) brought before court

Senior Civil Judge(Islamabad)Mahmood Haroon Thursday rejected the bail plea of local university students who prepared a skimmer to illegally get data from ATM cards and deprived cardholders of millions of rupees bringing the credit card fraud into the country. Meanwhile the court ordered Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to submit a complete challan within a month.

A FIR vide 01/2011 dated 20-01-11 was registered against Mr.Zaheer Ahmed, Nasir Abbas, Amir Shahzad, Muhammad Javed and Mustaqeem under section 36 and 37 of Electronic Transaction Ordinance (ETO) 2002 with FIA crime circle, Rawalpindi. The complaint was lodged by Syed Mustafa Ali Raza, Fraud Management Unit- North, Islamabad.

FIA conducted an inquiry (No, RE-11/11) and found Zaheer Ahmed, a resident of Chatha Bakhtawar, along with Nasir Abbas, Amir Shahzad, Muhammad Javed and Mustaqeem Ahmed embroiled in unauthorized access to the credit cards data. It was further revealed that when 14 Bank Al-Falah Credit Cardholders made a genuine transaction at Tri Star Petroleum (PSO) in 1-10 Markaz, Islamabad, the accused Zaheer Ahmed along with others fraudulently accessed the information systems of Bank / Visa International / Master Cards data and subsequently made fraudulent transactions on the same card accounts by using the counterfeit credit cards incurring Bank Al-Falah a loss of over Rs one million.

According to FIA Zaheer is a university student of electronics engineering and locally prepared skimmer to extract data from ATM cards. This credit card crime known as skimming in foreign countries is almost unprecedented in Pakistan.

The defence lawyer Thursday said that his clients were brilliant students and got embroiled in the crime due to their unemployment. He said they acknowledge their mistake and are willing to cooperate with FIA. He argued the maximum punishment prescribed for the offence in the law is 7-year imprisonment and normally bail is granted in the cases having less than 10-year imprisonment, therefore, the accused was entitled to be released on bail in the case which required further inquiry.

FIA investigations revealed that Zaheer had two skimmers, one to extract information from a card with a magnetic strip, classically a credit card, when it is used in a legitimate financial transaction. Once collected on the device, the skimmer can be used to make a clone or copy of the card, which can be used for illegal fraudulent purposes, or the collected information can be utilized for online and over the phone transactions which do not require a physical credit card but only the information on the card.