Crime branch busts Card cloning gang operating on virtual currency Hawala Bitcoins
New Delhi : A member of a gang involved in cloning debit and credit cards which was found active in Dadar area of Mumbai has been arrested by Crime branch officials based on severe complaints received of such fraud transactions all around the country. The person, named Pankaj Bharadwaj (25), a resident of Ghaziabad, was arrested with a cash of eight lakhs of rupees in person, which he had swindled from dubious and fraudulent use of cards of victims from across the country. Th gang was active in Delhi, Mumbai and Dubai — these base stations served as links for their transaction deals to be successfully executed using virtual currency trading Bitcoins, within Hawala trade.
Bitcoins a cryptographic, digital and experimental currency was introduced in the digital world in 2008. It is referred to as a ‘peer-to-peer, electronic payment system’. Unlike the usual form of currency, it is in virtual form and can be used to make payments online as well as in physical stores. With the enormous increase in the usage of internet and transactions through digital mode, creation of a digital currency was inevitable. Essentially, bitcoin is a snippet of codes based on algorithm first identified in a self authored paper by Satoshi Nakamoto (a fictitious name for a group of geeks). The creation and transfer of bitcoins is based on open source cryptographic protocol managed in a decentralized manner. Bitcoin network shares a public ledger called the ‘block chain’. The ledger contains details of every transaction done, thereby, allowing user’s computer to verify the validity of each transaction. The authenticity of each transaction is protected by digital signatures corresponding to the sending addresses, permitting all users to have full control over sending bitcoins from their own bitcoin addresses. Anyone can process transactions using the computing power of specialized hardware. This process is called ‘mining’.
Bitcoins are listed on stock exchanges in some of the mostly traded exchanges like BTC China, Mt. Gox in Japan, BitBox in US, Bitstamp in Slovenia, Bitcurex in Poland. At present, India does not have a centralised bitcoin exchange, but users buy and sell coins through several websites. Around 23,000 India users have online bitcoin wallets where their digital currency is stored. As on today, the value off one bitcoin is equivalent to 24,633 Indian Rupees.
Presently, there are no regulations governing virtual currencies like bitcoins in India. RBI, on December 24, 2013, issued a press release on virtual currencies like bitcoins, litecoins, bbqcoins, dogecoins stating that creation, trade and usage of virtual currencies as a medium for payment is not authorized by any central bank or monetary authority. Further, RBI has cautioned virtual currency traders and users to various security related risks such as hacking, malware attack etc.
While RBI has not legalized bitcoins, it has declared them unauthorized as of now.
The Crime branch, based on several such complaints which were received from different parts of India including Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and some southern states of India, sprung into action and nabbed the culprits. The complaints made by victims stated that money was being withdrawn from their accounts from Dadar area of Mumbai through ATMs. Consequently, Mumbai Police used its intel network and began surveillance of concerned routes being used by such gang. Finally, Mumbai police succeeded in arresting the criminal in action, while he was withdrawing money from one ATM in Dadar area. More than 20 cloned ATM cards were recovered from him and a case vide FIR No.50/16 under section 420/34 (IPC) was registered at PS Dadar, Mumbai in this regard.
As interrogation proceeded into deeper sheaths, the miscreant disclosed that after withdrawal of money from different accounts, he used to send cash to a person named Sumair Sheikh in Delhi through a ‘Hawala’ operator. A team of Dadar police station of Mumbai worked in collaboration with Delhi Crime Branch and laid trap to trace the accused.