The Cubbon Park Police on Wednesday took into custody two Chilean nationals for allegedly installing skimming devices in ATM kiosks across the city and looting lakhs of rupees since the last one month. The Cubbon Park Police on Wednesday took into custody Gonzalo Rafael Monje Valenzuela (30) and Angelo Manvel Venegaz Brione (26), after they were arrested by the Thilaknagar Police on July 6.
According to the Thilaknagar Police, Gonzalo and Angelo are part of a four-member gang, which had arrived in Bengaluru in June. Investigators say that the quartet had conducted reconnaissance of several localities in Bengaluru and had zeroed in on Jayanagar, Ashok Nagar, Wilson Garden and Cubbon Park areas to install skimmers in ATMs.
"A skimmer is a small device which can be fitted on top of real card readers. In this case, they had placed the skimmers inside the card readers of various ATMs in the city. When customers slide the credit or debit card, the skimmer reads and stores data on its magnetic strip. These men had extracted cameras from mobile phones and installed them in the crevice above the keypad. The camera noted down the pin codes of the cards," the Thilaknagar Police said.
On July 2, a representative of APS Private Limited which refills cash in ATM kiosks, noticed a skimming machine at Canara bank outlet on Jayanagar 9th Block. A complaint was registered with the Thilaknagar Police. With the help of CCTV footage, cops zeroed in on the Chilean nationals as the suspects. At around 11.45 pm, Gonzalo and Angelo appeared at an ATM in Jayanagar. A team of policemen lying in wait for the culprits caught the duo when they arrived to withdraw money from the ATM.
"Their MO (modus operandi) was simple. They would withdraw as much money as possible once at 11.45 pm since most banks have a withdrawal limit. They would wait till 12 pm and withdraw once more. We apprehended them and took them to the station," the police officer said.
The police, who quickly ushered in a Spanish translator found that the two men were part of a four-member gang and that two other associates — Miguel Angel Gimenez Poblete and Angelo Rodrigo Diaz Munoz, were handling the entire operation out of a service apartment in Sahyadri Layout. By the time the police reached the apartment, the duo had fled.
"The men who are absconding had laptops with crucial data. The laptops have card details and other information of thousands of people from the city. The men had been operating for over a month now and we are still trying to find out how much money was stolen. The arrested men traveled across Europe and Singapore before they reached Delhi in late May and arrived in Bengaluru in June," the police added.
Earlier in June, four police constables, attached with the Cubbon Park Police Station filed complaints with their respective banks stating that money had been deducted from their accounts even though they had not withdrawn the amount from any ATM. The police officials learnt that the money was withdrawn from a Canara bank ATM located near the Cubbon Park Police Station.
Soon, an FIR was registered at the Cubbon Park Police Station under section 174 of the CrPC (investigation) and the police found a skimming device in the ATM along with a mobile camera attached above the keypad.
"We had heard of a similar case in Jayanagar 9 block earlier in July where miscreants had attached skimmers to Canara Bank ATMs. And when we obtained their information from the Thilaknagar police, we realised they were the same men, who had installed skimmers in the Canara Bank ATMs in Cubbon Park area. We have also received information of similar activities in Viveknagar and Ashok Nagar Police Station limits. We requested a body warrant today (Wednesday) and have taken the two men into custody," the Cubbon Park Police said.