Mumbai: 17-year-old CA aspirant hacks into system of coffee shop chain, transfers customers' credit across nation

A 17-year-old Chartered Accountant (CA) aspirant cheated a city-based coffee shop after he transferred the establishment's gift card money into his own, thus duping them.

The teen, however, allegedly confessed to committing the crime to spend money on friends for partying. Preliminary probe revealed that the teen has transferred gift card money of the customers across the country, duping them all, following which he was booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Information Technology (IT) Act by Cyber Police and later taken into custody.

According to police sources, a coffee shop customer and gift card holder observed that the money loaded in his account was exhausted despite not being used. When the customer approached the shop, the staffer realised a number of gift cards were exhausted in the same manner. Acting on this information, a complaint was lodged with Cyber Police Station at Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) on September 28.

Police checked the CCTV camera footage, the computer which was hacked into and learned that credit was transferred from other customer's gift card and they traced the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the accused to Orissa. The investigation revealed that the accused had bounced the IP address and was later traced to a 17-year-old youth, who had hacked into the coffee shop's account to transfer credit. The accused teenager, who had scored a decent percentage in standard 10 and appeared for his standard 12 examination, was preparing for the CA examination when he hacked into the system.

A senior cyber official said that the teenager had transferred the credit to treat his friends at a fancy coffee shop and show off, claiming that he had no criminal intent. The teen had concealed his identity on the internet to defraud people and had used fake SIM cards to register the gift cards, said DCP Cyber Rashmi Karandikar.

"The teen claimed to have learnt to hack the system using social media platforms and YouTube, while he also admitted of having knowledge of the Dark Web. He had used sophisticated hacking, leaving no traces to nab him. Since he is a minor, he was produced in a juvenile court, which chargesheeted him and ordered the teen to attend counseling with an NGO for two years and a bond of ₹15,000," said DCP Karandikar.

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