By: Joseph Benny

MUSCAT: The ROP has asked the public to keep a tab on their bank accounts, and be careful while withdrawing cash from ATMs with cases of fraud involving misuse of debit card data being reported. A recent victim of such a fraud is an expatriate.

Without his knowledge, cash was withdrawn from his savings bank account from an ATM in China.

Speaking to Muscat Daily on condition of anonymity the victim said, “Recently I received an early morning call – at around 4.15am – from the fraud monitoring cell of my bank. They asked me if I was in China. When I told them I was in Oman, they said there had been a withdrawal from the account from a location in China. The unit said it was a fraudulent transaction in which 500 yuan (RO30 approx) had been withdrawn.”

Two more attempts to withdraw money from the victim’s account in the multinational bank had been made, which the unit had thwarted.

ROP officials have said that an international gang is behind such frauds. It installs a tiny device at ATMs which copies data from debit cards. “At that time, there were nearly RO3,000 in my savings account with the bank. As directed by the monitoring unit, I transferred all my money online to the current account which does not allow withdrawals using the debit card. The unit then asked me to fill out a form as a process to get back the lost money,” he said.

In another case this month, eight persons from an Asian country were arrested by the ROP for stealing bank customer data by hacking into a bank ATM in Dhofar. Their modus operandi was revealed when the bank alerted the police about the presence of the illegal data copying device at the ATM. The accused withdrew money using this stolen data and fled the country. They were, however, later nabbed from Qatar.

The ROP has asked people to report any suspicious devices at ATMs and also inform the bank if they feel their card data has been stolen.