A 26-year-old man was arrested Tuesday for allegedly duping gift card companies based in the United States of around Rs 1 crore by illegally obtaining card details and selling them over the Internet. While the initial complaint had pegged the amount lost at $100,000 (around Rs 68 lakh), probe by the police has revealed it is as high as Rs 1 crore.
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According to the Amboli police, the accused, Mohammad Yousuf Iqbal Ansari, worked at Excel Realty N Infra Limited, which has its offices at Laxmi Industrial Estate in Andheri West. The company handled gift card data for companies based in the United States.
Ansari obtained details of several gift cards and sold them online to a buyer named Jason, a US citizen.
“The accused was recruited as a loss prevention officer at the company in September and was handling gift card data. His computer, provided to him by the company, had various card details including PINs, e-code and password. He thought he could encash the gift cards and make quick money,” said an officer posted at the Amboli police station.
“Ansari then met Jason online and they devised a plan, whereby Ansari would send him gift card details, Jason would encash them and then send 50-55 per cent cut back to him in the form of bitcoins,” added the officer. Ansari and Jason were also in touch through ICQ, an instant messaging App.
According to the police, Ansari set up a bitcoin account on Unocoin, a popular Indian bitcoin wallet, to receive his cut from Jason. Jason had allegedly encashed gift cards worth at least Rs 1 crore and Ansari had so far received at least Rs 55 lakh in bitcoins, the police claim.
“The accused then transferred Rs 10 lakh from his bitcoin account to his ICICI account, from which he spent at least Rs 60,000. The remaining amount, Rs 9,40,000, has been recovered and his ICICI account has been frozen,” said the officer.
The police have seized Ansari’s bitcoin account too, and have transferred Rs 10 lakh, the allowed limit, to the ICICI account. They will transfer and recover the rest of the sum in the coming days.
Ansari, who the police said is a “computer expert”, had started work at Excel Realty on September 5 and allegedly siphoned at least Rs 1 crore with the help of Jason in a single month. When the US companies noticed losses, they suspected card details being leaked and complained to the Indian company. Excel Realty then started looking into the problem.
According to the police, the company reviewed its CCTV footage and discovered Ansari using a cellphone in the office, a breach of company rules. The company does not allow cellphones in its premises as it handles sensitive data all the time.
On being questioned by his company, Ansari denied any wrongdoing and then stopped coming to work from October 6.
The police, acting on the company’s complaint, looked into several employees handling card data and zeroed in on Ansari after investigations.
Surveillance officer Daya Nayak, acting under the supervision of Assistant Commissioner of Police Arun Chavan, picked up Ansari on Monday morning near Bandra reclamation and interrogated him.
He was given a notice of appearance before the police for the next day. On Tuesday, police recorded Ansari’s statement and checked his phone records. He was arrested Tuesday evening.
“His phone had incriminating chat records with Jason over ICQ ,” said the officer. The police have also confiscated 10 debit cards of various Indian banks and two cellphones from Ansari.
Excel Realty N Infra could not be reached for comment.
Amboli Police believe that the accused was in touch with other buyers in the United States apart from Jason and are investigating his emails. Ansari, who has no prior criminal record, has been remanded in police custody by an Andheri court till November 19.