At least 49 clients of five private commercial banks have lost around Tk 2 million when a criminal gang withdrew the money from booths by using cloned debit and credit cards recently.

Victims and bank officials said the frauds collected information for cloning the cards when the clients went to purchase in an outlet of a super shop in Banani area in the capital.

The victims are clients of private BRAC Bank, The City Bank, United Commercial Bank (UCB), Eastern Bank and Bank Asia.

Both credit and debit card were cloned for withdrwaral of money from ATM (automated teller machine) booths.

The banks concerned confirmed the matter after receiving complaints from the clients. Bank officials apprehend that the number of victims might be higher.

Bank officials said three clients -- Ishrat Jahan, Sajia Chowdhury and Aporupa Chowdhury -- bought some goods from Shwapno's Banani 11 and Kamal Ataturk Avenue  outlets on 22 February. Later on 10 March, an amount of Tk 50,000 was withdrawn from a booth of AB Bank in Kalshi, Mirpur.

When she received SMS (short messaging system) from the bank to her cell phone about the withdrawal, she informed the bank authorities of this.

In the same way, another Tk 600,000 was withdrawn from Brac Bank's nine clients. Brac bank authorities came to know about this following complaints from clients.

The frauds withdrew Tk 400,000 from the accounts of 11 clients of Eastern Bank, Tk 150,000 from the accounts of four clients of Bank Asia and Tk. 600,000 from the accounts of 22 clients of City Bank.

Authorities of the five banks later closed their ATM services of the clients concerned.

The City Bank authorities filed a case in this connection with Motijheel police station on 15 March. Four other banks are still investigating the matter.

When contacted, the officer-in-charge (investigation) of Motijheel police station, Golam Rabbani confirmed to Prothom Alo that the City Bank authorities filed a case.

The police, he said, has already started investigation into this matter.

Super shop Shwapno's executive director Sabbir Hasan could not be reached for comment. However, a senior official there said the banks could not give any evidence that the information about the cards were stolen from the supershop.

Brac Bank public relations department chief Zara Jabeen Mahbub told Prothom Alo that they are working with the super shop to identify the culprits. The bank has also given compensation to the clients, she added.

City Bank additional managing director Masrur Arefin is confident that the cards were cloned from Shwapno's Banani outlet.

'Later, money was withdrawn from the ATM booths. We have filed a case with Motijheel police station," he said.

In February 2016, 1,200 cards of Eastern Bank, The City Bank and United Commercial Bank were cancelled when frauds stole information from the cards with a special type of camera.

Currently there are one million credit card users while there are 6 million debit card clients in the country.

A total of 39 banks out of 57 provide credit card services.

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Mushfique Wadud

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