Online banking services have greatly facilitated people in their personal and business transactions. However, every year cases of criminals misusing the technology are being reported. However, they are unable to avoid the long arms of law for long and their game is soon over. Following complaints by thousands of people from across the country that fraudsters had deprived them of large sums of money using stolen fingerprints, the FIA has arrested 30 such alleged criminals. Agency officials have said they have recovered more than Rs25 million from the arrested accused. The fraudsters stole the victims’ fingerprints from voter lists, national identity cards, B-forms and documents from union councils allegedly with the help of officials. The fingerprints are then replicated on silicone. They are then copied on X-ray films. Later, a fake fingerprints membrane is made with silicone and it is pasted on the fingers and thumbs of the cheats who withdraw the money from the accounts of those whose fingerprints have been stolen.
For obtaining mobile phone SIMs, fingerprints and thumbprints are used. Mobile SIMs obtained on the basis of stolen fingerprints are used for illegal activities. Fraudsters download online banking apps on such mobile phones. After downloading the apps, cheats get relevant information of users and withdraw money from their bank accounts. Upon questioning by FIA officials, the arrested accused revealed their modus operandi. The agency officials say that dishonest employees of banks and mobile phone companies were also involved in the scam as they provided the cheats personal information of bank customers. Through a downloaded app and with the help of stolen fingerprints, one can easily open bank accounts in the name of other citizens and can withdraw money from their accounts.
The FIA say they have informed the PTA and the SBP about the matter so that the trend of fake bank accounts could be stopped. Account holders should take utmost care to protect their personal data.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2021.