Most of the ATM kiosks in Jadavpur and Charu Market areas still remain without any security personnel even four days after the massive ATM fraud hit the city and left at least 70 citizens in a state of shock, not to mention with large holes in their bank balances.
The ATMs at Jadavpur and Charu Market are the worst hit according to Kolkata Police, with 49 and 16 cases registered respectively at these two police stations. The ATM of Charu Avenue branch of Punjab National Bank at Tollygunge Phari crossing was compromised using a skimmer. However, the ATM still has no security personnel as of now. “The ATM is inspected four times a day, twice by police and twice by us,” said an official of the bank. Tapati Dutta, a PNB customer said, “It is not possible to stand in queues at the bank to withdraw money. Moreover, banks are insisting on getting hold of a debit card. Now, if the bank cannot protect customer interest and money, then I will have to give up my card and start using cheques.”
Though the State Bank of India ATM which is beside the Gate number 2 of Jadavpur University, has a guard who monitors the ATM, there is no guard on another ATM located beside Gate number 4 of the university.
“I have been instructed to check the machines daily and look out for any suspicious activity of anyone. We have also been instructed to not allow more than one person at the kiosk when any transaction is being processed,” said the guard. Although no fresh complaints have been lodged today, this massive fraud has left the bank customers in a helpless condition.
Senior police officers met several victims of the ATM fraud today at Lalbazar and assured them of all assistance. Bank officials have also been asked by police to refund the money. Local police stations have been instructed to check ATMs twice daily and conduct bike-patrolling at night as 250-odd kiosks are still being operated without security guards.
“All the cases reported in the city did not involve the use of skimming devices, as we have found that out of 70 cases, at least 20-25 consumers have been defrauded after they shared their OTP details over the phone to the fraudsters,” said joint CP (crime) Murlidhar Sharma. However, most of the money was withdrawn through the data collected through skimmers, he acknowledged. Meanwhile, a city police team has been conducting joint combing operation with Delhi Police at several locations in the national capital where Romanian citizens usually stay.
They have also collected data from the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) to trace the whereabouts of nearly 250 Romanian nationals staying in Delhi.
The neighbouring states as well as authorities in Nepal have been alerted regarding movement of Romanian citizens. Police suspect that apart from at least three Romanian fraudsters, some local residents are involved in this fraud. The name of Adrian Lupu has surfaced in connection with this case in which more than 14 lakh rupees have been fraudulently withdrawn so far.