Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Die-hard con man

PETALING JAYA: Despite his relatively young age, the alleged mastermind behind the credit card theft syndicate involving postmen is an “old hand” in the scamming business, having two cheating cases pending in court prior to his recent arrest.
Both cheating cases, it has been revealed, also involved credit cards.
Although the 37-year-old was released on bail pending trial for both cases, it appears that the lure of easy money proved too strong for the suspect, who promptly returned to a life of crime.
This was disclosed by a source close to the investigation, who said the main suspect, who was unemployed, was the first to be picked up in the police dragnet on the syndicate. He was arrested at the Taman Shamelin post office on April 1.
The suspect and his girlfriend were among 13 people, including seven postmen and a National Registration Department (NRD) staff, arrested for their alleged involvement in the postal credit card scam.
The source said the main suspect was an expert as he could easily remove the microchip on the credit card stolen by the postmen without causing damage to it.
Initial investigations revealed that there was no high-tech tool used in the process.
"A simple tool was used but we have yet to figure out how he did it without causing damage to the microchip. Microchips, as we know, are super sensitive,” the source told The Malay Mail this morning.
Investigations had revealed that the syndicate had obtained the credit cards from postmen who were paid between RM50 and RM100 for each card they stole.
The original microchip was then removed and replaced with a fake one. It was then repackaged and returned to the postmen to be delivered to unsuspecting bank customers.
As for the original microchip, the source said the syndicate would then embed it into a different credit card and activate it for a shopping spree.
“There are two ways to activate the card. The owner could have done it without knowing the card he or she had in hand was fitted with a fake chip or the syndicate could have also done it with the help of NRD staff,” said the source.
It is learnt the NRD staff’s role was to furnish the card owner’s personal details to the syndicate member to be used when they were asked by the bank staff for personal information before the microchip is activated.
It is also learnt the NRD staff was not rewarded with cash for his “goodwill” but was repaid with entertainment at any nightspot of his choice.
Police investigations revealed the syndicate members had mainly used the cards to fund their lavish lifestyles spending mostly on designer handbags, jewellery and designer watches.
Police are now checking the syndicate’s network and the possibility they could have also engaged postmen in other States to supply them with the credit cards for a minimal fee.
Kuala Lumpur deputy police chief SAC Datuk Amar Singh said police uncovered the syndicate operation by chance, after conducting an investigation following a police report lodged by a man who claimed that someone had tried to claim his credit card at the post office on his behalf.
Police conducted a two-week operation and managed to arrest the syndicate’s mastermind.
Police arrested 12 others in several follow-up operations based on information obtained from the first arrest. Also seized were 10 fake credit cards, 11 envelopes with genuine credit cards which had been intercepted by the postmen, a Toyota Alphard and 19 handphones.
The syndicate, which has been active since 2009, was believed to have spent about RM1 million using the stolen credit card chips.
Police said the suspects were linked to 11 cases so far, although they believe the postmen who were arrested in Cheras and Dang Wangi had stolen hundreds more cards.
The suspects, aged between 25 and 40, had their remand order extended after the first remand expired early today to facilitate police investigations. - theMalayMail

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