Delhi café staff clones customer credit cards; siphons off over ₹6 lakh


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An employee of Farzi Café in Connaught Place (CP) has been booked for allegedly cloning credit and debit cards of customers, and misusing them to the tune of ₹6,03,500. The accused is absconding.

An FIR against the employee was registered at CP police station on Tuesday after HDFC Bank submitted a complaint.

“We suspect this to be a case of card cloning because of the way in which the transactions were made. The customers had their cards with them, which meant someone had cloned them,” said an officer privy to the case.

‘A common crime’

Cyber law expert Pavan Duggal said debit and credit cards can be easily cloned these days.

“All that a criminal needs is a card reader. When a customer hands over a credit or debit card, the card is swiped on the card reader. This duplicates all the data on the magnetic strip of the card. Card readers are easily available in the market at fairly low prices,” Mr. Duggal said.

Throughout April, HDFC Bank received a number of complaints from customers across Delhi that their credit and debit cards were being swiped without their knowledge even though the cards were with them.

“A few of our customers disputed certain ATM cash withdrawals carried out using their cards aggregating to ₹6,03,500. The customers told the bank that the disputed transactions were neither carried out nor authorised by them,” a senior HDFC bank manager stated in his complaint.

‘Finding a common link’

The bank approached the police on April 29 with a complaint mentioning details of 13 customers.

The police started investigations by scanning the records of the victims to find a common link.

“All transactions by the customers made in April and previous months were examined and we discovered that all of them had, at some point, visited Farzi Café,” said the officer.

The police then investigated if there was a particular employee who had attended to the customers whose cards were allegedly cloned.

In a statement, the café said it had been helping the police and the bank in nabbing the accused, identified as Mohd. Badrul Islam Barduiya.

“On receiving information from the bank in April, an immediate internal investigation was launched and a potential suspect was identified. We alerted the police on April 15,” read the statement.

“As it turned out, Mr. Barduiya had attended to all these customers. His suspicious movements were also caught on CCTV cameras,” said the officer.

“We visited Farzi Café during the probe. He might have got a whiff of it and left the place. He is a native of Assam. A case has been registered on charges of cheating, forgery, and using forged documents,” the officer added.

The management of the café, however, said that Mr. Barduiya had absconded a month before the restaurant was made aware of the alleged fraud.

‘More cases’

An HDFC official said they had been informed by another bank about similar illegal transactions.

“We are aware of similar transactions being carried out by debit and credit cards of customers from another bank. We suspect there are more cases of similar nature where the same modus operandi was used,” he said.