More Chinese nationals arrested in Pakistan ATM heist

The two foreigners were apprehended stealing financial data from a Karachi ATM owned by Pakistan’s largest bank, Habib Bank Limited, which has been previously targeted. (AFP)
Updated 11 January 2018
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More Chinese nationals arrested in Pakistan ATM heist

ISLAMABAD: The arrest of two Chinese nationals involved in ATM skimming on Wednesday has alarmed security officials who have apprehended numerous Chinese individuals committing cybercrimes in Pakistan since last year.
The two foreigners were apprehended stealing financial data from a Karachi ATM owned by Pakistan’s largest bank, Habib Bank Limited, which has been previously targeted.
“The two Chinese men have been booked under FIR #1/2018,” Station House Officer Salman Waheed told Arab News on Thursday from his police station in southern Karachi. “We have registered cases against them under the Pakistan Penal Code and will send them to prison.”
He added that skimming machines and other devices were also recovered from the suspects.
The men had planted the devices days earlier and returned on Wednesday to collect the stolen data, not knowing that they were being monitored by bank officials who first detained the individuals and, after interrogating them, called the Federal Investigation Agency’s Cyber Crime Unit.
“These two skimmers arrived in Islamabad on Jan. 4 and traveled to Karachi. They took residence at a guesthouse in Defense Housing Authority (an expensive neighborhood) and began their criminal activity,” said Waleed, who is part of the investigation team.
He said the passports of the Chinese nationals have a one-month business visa, and it is likely that the two individuals have a link to the previous gang involved in similar activities in the city.
Superintendent of Police Tauqeer Naeem, who is in charge of Saddar area, a business neighborhood, said: “There has been a sharp rise in ATM fraud in Karachi, and the devices that the two men were carrying are similar to the devices used in other cases.”
In December, Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) probed a string of ATM scams that led to the arrest of four suspects and included Chinese nationals. The agency recovered money worth $105,000 in local currency and confiscated equipment and cloned debit cards used by the scammers.
Banks using outdated technology fitted with aging security protocols have attracted “organized foreign groups” to hack the ATM booths, suggests the FIA, which has called for the introduction of biometric security at cash machines.
Waleed explained that the two Chinese men may be part of an international skimming syndicate, pointing to FIA Director Shakeel Durrani’s press briefing in December in which he said that the hackers had sent financial information to several countries and the cash withdrawal trail led to China, Canada, Italy, Nigeria, Indonesia, Malaysia and the US, among other countries.
Explaining how the skimming is done, Waleed said: “Their main objective is to enter financial databases since that gives them the ability to read anyone’s credit or debit card. When the skimming device is installed in the card scanner, it records all the data on the card and stores it in the memory of the concealed device. Separately, a spy camera is used to record users’ PIN codes while they are typing them in before taking out cash from the machine. The saved data is cloned onto a fake blank magnetic strip card using a laptop.”
The end result, he said, is a fully functional plastic financial wallet.


India’s Modi stares at biggest election loss since coming to power

Updated 11 December 2018
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India’s Modi stares at biggest election loss since coming to power

  • Analysts say a big loss for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party would signify rural dismay and help unite the opposition
  • Poll analysts cautioned that with the counting in preliminary stages, it was still too early to predict the outcome of state races involving millions of voters

NEW DELHI: India’s ruling party could lose power in three key states, four TV networks said on Tuesday, citing votecount leads, potentially handing Prime Minister Narendra Modi his biggest defeat since he took office in 2014, and months ahead of a general election.
The main opposition Congress party could form governments in the central states of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, and in the western state of Rajasthan, all big heartland states that powered Modi to a landslide win in the 2014 general election.
Analysts say a big loss for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party would signify rural dismay and help unite the opposition, despite his high personal popularity in the face of criticism that he did not deliver on promises of jobs for young people and better conditions for farmers.
“We’ve all voted for Congress this time and our candidate is winning here,” said Bishnu Prasad Jalodia, a wheat grower in Madhya Pradesh, where it appears as if Congress might have to woo smaller parties to keep out Modi’s party.
“BJP ignored us farmers, they ignored those of us at the bottom of the pyramid.”
The elections are also a test for Rahul Gandhi, president of the left-of-center Congress, who is trying to forge a broad alliance with regional groups and face Modi with his most serious challenge yet, in the election that must be held by May.
In Rajasthan, the Congress was leading in 114 of the 199 seats contested, against 81 for the BJP, in the initial round of voting, India Today TV said.
In Chhattisgarh, the Congress was ahead in 59 of the 90 seats at stake, with the BJP at 24. In Madhya Pradesh, the most important of the five states that held assembly elections over the past few weeks, Congress was ahead, with 112 of 230 seats. The Hindu nationalist BJP was at 103, the network said.
Three other TV channels also said Congress was leading in the three states, with regional parties leading in two smaller states that also voted, Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.
Poll analysts cautioned that with the counting in preliminary stages, it was still too early to predict the outcome of state races involving millions of voters.
Local issues usually dominate state polls, but politicians are seeing the elections as a pointer to the national vote just months away.
Indian markets recovered some ground after an early fall as the central bank governor’s unexpected resignation the previous day shocked investors.
The rupee currency dropped as much as 1.5 percent to 72.465 per dollar, while bond yields rose 12 basis points to 7.71 percent after the resignation of Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel.
The broader NSE share index was down 1.3 percent, with investors cautious ahead of the election results.
“As the three erstwhile BJP states have a large agrarian population, the BJP’s drubbing could be interpreted to mean that farm unrest is real,” Nomura said in a research note before the results.
“A rout of the BJP on its homeground states should encourage cohesion among the opposition parties to strengthen the non-BJP coalition for the general elections.”
Gandhi, the fourth generation scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, has sought to build a coalition of regional groups, some headed by experienced firebrand, ambitious politicians.
Congress has already said it would not name Gandhi, who is seen as lacking experience, as a prime ministerial candidate.
“When one and one become eleven, even the mighty can be dethroned,” opposition leader Akhilesh Yadav said of the prospect of growing opposition unity.