On March 20, two Two Chinese citizens fell into Pakistani Federal Investigation Agency custody after being caught on camera while stealing from ATMs. The FIA announced that the ATM fraud hit their radar on March 10; they received complaints from the branch manager of Bank alHabib, Chartered Accountant Avenue Branch. After an investigation ensued, authorities captured both “hackers.” According to Deputy Director of Cybercrime Muhammad Ahmad Zaeem, Pakistani credit card information is readily available on the darknet.
Zaeem watched the credit card thieves as they installed magnetic card readers like those used in the majority of credit card skimming crimes. He said the FIA allowed the skimmer installation for “proof before acting or arresting them, we wanted to catch them red handed.” Through their arrest, the FIA learned that vendors auctioned off the stolen financial information of Pakistani victims.
According to a report of the incident:
“During the proceeding of the hearing, the prosecution stated that the skimmed information was being sent abroad for conduct of international transactions over the wire. They also claimed finding more skimming devices as evidences following the information provided by the two accused.”
The Deputy Director explained that criminals commonly used the same technique at ATMs: one with a card skimmer and a pinhole camera. The card skimmer angle rarely changes; in past cases DeepDotWeb covered, the card thief inserted a magnetic strip card reader into the ATM or other card reading machines like gasoline pumps. The card reader contacted the thief—often through a wireless connection like Bluetooth, WiFi, or cellular data—unless the unit simply stored data locally. In which case, a manual pickup of the unit would be required.
He further explained that, in order to get a victim’s PIN code, the thief installed a microscopic pinhole camera. The card number alone is worth very little in today’s day and age—for online activities, at least.
The FIA arrested both Chinese nationals as they retrieved the skimmers and pinhole cameras from an ATM in Clifton. He gave examples of similar activity throughout Pakistan and acknowledged that this occurrence was not exclusive to Pakistan; in just two hours, similar rogue parties stole $12 million from ATMs in Japan.
The stolen credit card data, Iike most stolen databases or account logins, ended up on the darknet, he said. The Deputy Director explained that the FIA discovered that vendors usually auctioned credit card data to the highest bidder. The darknet, he explained, “is basically a platform for hackers.” The stolen credit card data “is used there for illegal activities, like making fake cash withdrawals, money laundering and carrying out online transactions.”