Mumbai: The country’s strides in IT-enabled services have had an unfortunate side-effect – the unethical hacking of ATMs.

Its latest victim is Miss India Earth 2002 Reshmi Ghosh, who became popular as Bhumi from Kyunki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi, who had Rs. 2 lakh stolen from her
compromised account.

In the past two weeks, more than three police officers and six others have also registered cases with the Oshiwara police complaining that cash has been withdrawn from their Axis Bank accounts by hackers.

The police have registered FIRs in the cases and forwarded them to the Mumbai police’s cyber cell.

On July 27, Ghosh’s father, Subroto, deposited a cheque in a Kolkata branch of the Axis Bank when he learnt that Rs. 2 lakh had been withdrawn from the account through a debit

Following this, Subroto called Reshmi, but the latter denied withdrawing any cash.

Three days before that, Subroto had withdrawn Rs. 15,000 from the account and the
balance had stood at around Rs. 4 lakh.

“It is a joint account held by my father and me, and we have two debit cards for it. My father usually takes care of the transactions.

On July 27, my father called me up to ask about a withdrawal to the tune of Rs. 2 lakh over
two days. I was shocked. I rushed to the bank’s Lokhandwala branch and immediately stopped all payments,” Reshmi said
On August 6, Reshmi then registered a case of hacking with the Oshiwara police station.
Cops said that when a debit card is swiped, say, in a mall, hackers are tuned in to the mall’s machines using high-tech equipment.

They copy the card’s details, including the CVV number, and pass them on to duplicate cards and remove money from the account.

Ghosh’s debit card was used at different ATMs between July 25 and 26, including those of Bank of Baroda in Santacruz, where transactions have been made seven times, and Standard Chartered in Koparkhairane, where six transactions happened.

“We have registered a case, but tracing the hackers is difficult. We will now check the CCTV footage from the ATMs when the withdrawals occurred.
The cybercrime department is looking into the technical aspect of the hacking,” said PI Vijay Kadam of the Oshiwara police station.

A spokesperson for Axis Bank said, “We have received complaints from a few customers that cash has been withdrawn from their accounts from other banks’ ATMs.

While we are investigating these complaints, we would like to inform that on August 1, Axis Bank filed an FIR with the cyber cell police station at Crawford Market about the discovery of an extraneous device attached to one of its offsite ATMs in Mumbai during a routine examination.

We are providing necessary assistance to the investigating agency. Also, we will try to compensate our customers and reimburse the loss they have suffered.”

Ghosh has also acted in TV serials Kahe Naa Kahe and Karam Apnaa Apnaa and participated in the dance reality show Nach Baliye.



British police investigating phone hacking at the News of the World were to extend their probe on Saturday into claims that computers were hacked, in a fresh threat to Rupert Murdoch’s embattled empire.

London’s Metropolitan police said late on Friday it was establishing a new team of officers to examine claims which emerged during its current phone-hacking investigation that computers may have also been illegally accessed.

The move heaped further pressure on Murdoch’s embattled News Corp. conglomerate the same day an investigator at the heart of the controversy said he acted on orders from News of the World (NotW), axed this month as the scandal erupted.

Private detective Glenn Mulcaire’s comments are a challenge to claims by Murdoch’s empire that he was a rogue operator.

Meanwhile, a British parliamentary committee said it had ordered Murdoch’s son and heir apparent James to give written clarification of answers he gave on the scandal last week.

Murdoch has been struggling for weeks to stem the spiralling scandal, which has dragged in police and politicians and spread to the United States and Australia.

But there was little sign on Saturday that the crisis was about to die down, with police laying the ground to start probing allegations of computer hacking.

An inquiry, Operation Tuleta, was “currently considering a number of allegations regarding breach of privacy… including computer hacking” that were not covered by the current phone-hacking probe, Scotland Yard said in a statement.

A team was being established to look into the claims and “some aspects of this operation will move forward to a formal investigation,” said the statement.

The police have faced fierce criticism over their failure to properly investigate hacking allegations during an initial probe in 2006.

That investigation led to the jailing of the NotW’s royal editor and Mulcaire in 2007 but despite mounting evidence that hacking was more widespread than the paper originally claimed, the police only revived the probe this year.

Two top officers have been forced to resign over the scandal along with several top Murdoch aides.

Elsewhere, Mulcaire’s intervention focused attention back on the issue of how much key figures at News Corp. knew about hacking.

In a statement issued by his lawyers, Mulcaire expressed “sincere regret” but he added that he was “effectively employed” by the paper from 2002.

“Any suggestion that he acted in such matters unilaterally is untrue,” the statement said.

He spoke a day after the mother of a murdered eight-year-old girl said police had confirmed her details were found among his papers. Claims that he hacked the phone of a murdered 13-year-old ignited the scandal earlier this month.

Rebekah Brooks, editor of the News of the World from 2000-2003, and her successor until 2007, Andy Coulson, have both denied authorising any phone hacking or knowing that the practice was being used by their staff.

Brooks and Coulson, who went on to become Prime Minister David Cameron’s media chief until January this year, have since been arrested.

James and Rupert Murdoch, along with Brooks, who quit as chief executive of News Corp.’s British newspaper wing News International earlier this month, answered questions from parliament’s media committee on July 19.

Committee chairman John Whittingdale said Friday that he would be writing to James Murdoch about his testimony to the committee and that “the chances are” he would be recalled to clarify his evidence.

Ex-NotW editor Colin Myler and legal manager Tom Crone last week said James Murdoch gave misleading evidence about how much he knew about the extent of hacking at the paper when he authorised a payout to a victim in 2008.

It was at that hearing that the 80-year-old Rupert Murdoch was hit in the face with a plateful of shaving foam by comedian Jonathan May-Bowles.

May-Bowles, 26, whose stage name is Jonnie Marbles, pleaded guilty Friday at City of Westminster Magistrates Court to assault and to causing harassment, alarm or distress. A judge told him he faces jail when sentenced on Tuesday.

James Murdoch has also faced calls to quit his chairmanship of pay-TV giant BSkyB. But his position was strengthened on Friday when the company posted bumper operating profits of £1.073 billion (€1.22 billion) in the 12 months to June, up 23 percent on the previous year.

The Times newspaper, meanwhile, reported on Saturday that Prince William expressed disappointment to James Murdoch and Brooks that no one from News International had apologised to him after his aides’ phones were hacked several years ago.

During a lunch meeting in January at a north Wales hotel, Murdoch and Brooks reportedly offered their apologies to him.

Sir Paul Stephenson, the former Scotland Yard police commissioner, was told by Downing Street not to disclose the employment of Neil Wallis to ensure it did not compromise David Cameron, MPs have been told.

Sir Paul, who resigned at the weekend as the head of the Metropolitan Police, told the Home Affairs Select Committee that a “senior official at Number 10” made the request but he did not name them.

He told MPs that he tendered his resignation as the head of Britain’s biggest police force to prevent continuing damaging speculation over his role in the phone-hacking scandal in the run-up to next year’s London Olympics.

He admitted that “distracting” stories about his links to the scandal that has left the Yard in turmoil for days had left him with no choice but to resign, adding: “It was my decision and my decision only.”

He conceeded that he now regretted hiring Mr Wallis, the former News of the World Deputy Editor, saying he was “embarrassed” by the appointment.

“Just let me say, with the benefit of what we know now, I’m quite happy to put on the record I regret that we went into that contract, quite clearly, because it’s embarrassing,” he said.

“I wasn’t involved in the procurement process but I have to say I would not be discomfited by the fact that Mr Wallis came out of that process because I knew nothing to his detriment.”

But he continued to defend accepting thousands of pounds worth of free hospitality from a luxury health spa owned by a friend, which also employed Mr Wallis, 60, as a PR advisor.

Sir Paul denied taking a “swipe” at the Prime Minister in his resignation statement when he referred to his own connection to Mr Wallis and Mr Cameron’s employment of former editor Andy Coulson.

Asked why had not disclosed that Mr Wallis worked for the Met as a PR consultant, he replied: “Why did I not tell the Prime Minister before Wallis’ name was connected with phone hacking? I would have no reason to.

“I had no reason to connect Wallis with phone hacking, I had no reason to doubt his impropriety, nothing had come to my attention, I had no knowledge of the previous inquiry and I had no reason to inquire of the previous inquiry.

“And I’d been given assurances by a senior grade chief constable that actually there was nothing new.”

He added “Actually a senior official at Number 10 guided us that actually we should not compromise the Prime Minister, and it seems to me to be entirely sensible.

“I am very aware of the political exchanges on the employment of Mr Coulson. Why would I want to risk anyone being accused of any compromise?

“Even though I would not suggest for a moment the Prime Minister or the Home Secretary would say anything, but why would I risk that compromise?

“It is very sensible not to compromise people and not to leave people open to any suggestion of compromise when they don’t need to be.”

He said in his resignation speech that he was “trying to draw the contrast” between the two appointments because when Mr Coulson resigned from the Sunday tabloid in January 2007 “by definition he associated his name with hacking”.

“I was taking no such swipe at the Prime Minister,” Sir Paul said.

“I do agree with the Prime Minister when he says this was entirely different.”

“What I was trying to get across was simply this: When Mr Coulson resigned he resigned … to be the leader and to take responsibility. By definition he associated his name with hacking. That is simply and blindingly obvious.”

Sir Paul pointed out that by contrast Mr Wallis had not left his job in connection with hacking.

“I had no reason to doubt Mr Wallis’s integrity. I had no reason to associate him with hacking,” he added.

“That is the difference. I didn’t mean to impugn the Prime Minister by it.”

Sir Paul said he realised he had to resign when it emerged that Mr Wallis had links to health spa Champneys, where he had received up to £24,000 worth of free accommodation and board following an operation to remove a tumour.

“When I became aware that Mr Wallis was in some way connected with Champneys I thought that was a very difficult story,” he said,

“I think it was very unfortunate for me. I had no knowledge previously. I think that, together with everything else, I thought this is going to be a significant story, and if I am going to be a leader and do the right thing by my organisation I better do something quickly.”

Appearing in full uniform, Sir Paul said he had received the full support of Home Secretary Theresa May and London Mayor Boris Johnson before resigning.

Sir Paul said Mrs May had been “shocked” by the resignation, while Mr Johnson accepted it “very reluctantly”.

A No 10 spokesman was not immediately available for comment.


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