Alleged counterfeit bank cards producer, user arrested

Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Issue 259, Page 2
Word count: 467
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

An alleged counterfeit bank card user, suspected of using account details stolen from Western Europe to withdraw money from automatic teller machines in Macau in the past week, was arrested by the Judiciary Police (PJ) on Monday after they received reports from three local banks.

According to police spokesperson Chan Kin Hong, a total of 117 suspected fake bank cards were seized, including 48 blank cards which had no personal details or passwords written as yet.

Also, Mr Chan said at least 300 bank account details were found on the suspect’s laptop and the card numbers showed that they were all issued from Western Europe.

Apart from the HK$34,200 cash recovered from the 29-year-old Malaysian’s hotel room in the Central district, police could not yet confirm the total amount of withdrawal the suspect had made illegally using self-produced credit or debit cards, because “he [had] also spent on shopping and dining during the past week”.

Mr Chan said police believed the 29-year-old man, through e-mail communication, received credit or debit cards details obtained by his accomplices by illegally installing micro devices in the ATMs, then allegedly making use of a software and a card reader/writer to store the stolen information in blank cards with metallic strips which could then be used to withdraw money together with the stolen passwords.

Between February 13 and February 15, Mr Chan said three local banks reported to police that their branches’ automatic teller machines (ATM) had received bank cards of unknown sources and they suspected that the cards were used to make illegal withdrawals.

The PJ then identified a few suspicious ATM locations and carried out surveillance. At around 8:00pm on Monday, a man was seen withdrawing money from various ATMs in Nape and the Central district.

After an interrogation and a body search, 16 suspected fake bank cards were recovered from the suspect, as well as an additional 73 cards were found in his hotel room.

The banks also kept 28 suspected counterfeit bank cards which their ATMs had taken in after the legitimate cardholders in Western Europe noticed the unjustified overseas withdrawals and had then terminated the cards at the banks, Mr Chan said.

In addition to the bank cards, police seized a card reader, a laptop and equipment believed to be used for producing in-house counterfeit cards in the hotel room.

The suspect, surnamed S. Wathumalai, flew from Malaysia on February 12 which was his first visit to Macau.

Investigations will continue as the PJ is not ruling out the possibility that more local banks were involved in the alleged activity, and INTERPOL will also be contacted to provide background information of the suspect, Mr Chan said.

He was sent to the Public Prosecutions Office yesterday and will be charged with information fraud and participating in counterfeiting technology.


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