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Teacher skimmed by card thieves

A Calcutta teacher was “skimmed” of Rs 40,000 by a gang of cheats using a small device and stealing the PIN when he swiped his debit card at a Mumbai ice cream parlour.

The incident occurred last December when Kasba resident Soumendra Chakraborty, who teaches at Uttar Banga Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, was holidaying in Mumbai.

A youth at the parlour allegedly extracted the details stored in the magnetic strip of the card using a skimmer and memorised the PIN. He passed the information to three persons, including a Nigerian, who used the data to clone Chakraborty’s card and withdraw money from his account through an ATM.

The youth is still at large but the three accomplices have been arrested in Mumbai.

The skimmer can extract information stored in a card and it usually looks like a swiping machine or is fitted to one.

“The card was given to the youth at the counter for making the payment. He passed it through a skimmer that transferred the account data into the machine. The boy then asked the professor to enter the PIN and followed with his eyes each digit punched on the machine,” said joint commissioner (crime) Pallab Kanti Ghosh.

Chakraborty signed the transaction receipt and left, unaware that details of his bank account had been stolen.

“Data stolen by a skimmer can be used to make duplicate cards,” said a cyber expert. The cloned cards don’t have the three-digit security code — card verification value — printed alongside the magnetic strip, he added.

Chakraborty came to know of the theft when he received an SMS from the bank about Rs 40,000 being debited from his account on December 5 last year. He immediately checked with his bank, which confirmed the withdrawal.

He then reported the matter to the police.

“We found that the transactions were made from an ATM at Vashi in Mumbai. We sent a team and found CCTV footage of three youths at the machine when the money was debited from the professor’s account,” Ghosh said.

The trio have been brought to Calcutta. “The Nigerian is the mastermind,” Ghosh said.