Two Bulgarians who allegedly cloned ATM cards and succeeded in withdrawing money from the accounts of customers of some banks have been arrested by the police.
The suspects, Nikolay Petev Nedyalkov, 24, and Petar Petrov Yardanov, 33, are suspected to have been living in Ghana for some years.
They are said to have withdrawn cash from the bank accounts of the victims with the cloned ATM cards using the ‘Gh-link platform’.
Gh-link is a national ATM card that enables users to use the same card at ATM points of different banks. This service, which was launched in November 2012, is to interconnect banks in Ghana by the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems.
Briefing journalists, the Director-General of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, Commissioner of Police Mr. Prosper Agblor, said the police started tracking the activities of the suspects following reports from one of the affected banks.
He said the management of Prudential Bank Ghana, on December 7, 2015, petitioned the CID concerning complaints it had received from some of its customers about a series of unauthorised ATM withdrawals from their accounts using the Gh-link platform.
Following the report, he said, preliminary investigations revealed that the data on customers' ATM cards were harvested at an ATM farm at Korle Bu.
A team of police investigators who visited the ATM farm found that the CCTV cameras installed at the ATMs of the various banks had been removed, making it difficult to find out those who had used the machines.
Mr. Agblor said while investigations were ongoing, a member of the staff of Prudential Bank alerted the bank to an unauthorised withdrawal of GH¢140 from his account through an ATM at the bank’s head office about 4:30 p.m. on June 6, 2016.
Immediately, he said a team of experts was dispatched to examine the CCTV installed close to the ATM.
The CCTV footage, he said, revealed a fair young man on a motorbike suspected to be behind the unauthorised withdrawal, leading to the mounting of a search for him.
About two hours later, he said, Nedyalkov was spotted on his motorbike at the Prudential Bank head office ATM and identified as the man who had been seen in the CCTV footage.
Mr. Agblor said the suspect was immediately arrested by the staff of the bank and handed over to the police.
He said a search on him led to the retrieval of 24 ATM cards suspected to have been cloned, four pink sticker sheets with numbers written on them suspected to be the corresponding pin codes of the ATM cards and six ATM printout receipts with amounts between GH¢140 and GH¢280.
Later, he said the police recovered a Honda motorbike, two laptops which had a cloning software installed on them, one hard drive, two routers and 10 dismantled CCTV cameras when a search was conducted in Nedyalkov’s house.
They also found a projector, some electrical tools, a piece of paper with a combination of numbers suspected to be ATM pin codes and a suspected cloned ATM card similar to the ones captured by the bank's ATM.
However, Mr. Agblor said Yardanov, who was Nedyalkov’s accomplice, escaped when the police went to his house at East Legon to search it but was arrested at his hideout at Dzorwulu on June 8, 2016.
He said the two were currently assisting the police with investigations.