Less than a week after the Navghar police arrested a 40-year-old crook for duping customers who approached Automated Teller Machine (ATM) kiosks to withdraw money from their bank accounts, their crime branch (unit III) counterparts attached to the Mira Bhayandar-Vasai Virar (MBVV) police commissionerate busted a gang for their involvement in a spate of crimes using the same modus-operandi.
Five people including a small time television actor identified as Ajay Shukla (33) who has worked in popular serials and crime thrillers have been apprehended.
Alarmed by cases in which ATM users were cheated by con-artists, DCP (Crime) Dr. Mahesh Patil intensified vigilance and deputed special squads to nab the culprits.
While scanning the footage captured by the Close Circuit Tele-Vision (CCTV) installed near the ATM booths and possible getaway routes of various crime scenes, a team led by Police Inspector Pramod Badhaak shortlisted some suspicious-looking bikes and auto-rickshaws spotted in the vicinity of crime scenes.
Armed with their registration numbers, the team also tracked the electronic footprints and finally zeroed in on Shukla and his accomplices identified as Dharmendrakumar Sabajait Dubey (40), Bablu Jokhan Saroj (35), Jitendrakumar Laljeet (24) and Brijesh Indrajeet Chauhan (22).
Explaining the modus operandi, the police said, the accused approached ATM users under the guise of offering help and kept observing the PIN when victim was entering in the system after punching the card. When the machine failed to respond, the crook hurriedly left the booth, but not before replacing the card with a similar-looking one. The original card and the memorized the PIN and it was used to make fraudulent withdrawals.
Apart from mobile phones, 60 ATM cards of various banks have been recovered from the possession of the accused, indicating the gang’s involvement in more similar crimes. The vehicles including the auto-rickshaw and a bike used in the crime have also been seized by the police team.
The gang has confessed to their involvement in similar frauds committed by them in Valiv, Virar, Thane, Bhiwandi and even in Vapi (Gujarat). A case under section 420 of the IPC has been registered against all the accused who have been remanded to custody after they were produced before the district court, police said. Further investigations were underway.