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Indian police nab biometric spoofing gang

Accused of using cloned fingerprints for online bank fraud


Police in the Indian state of Haryana say five persons suspected of perpetuating bank fraud using the biometric authentication mechanism of the Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS) are in their custody.

Times of India reports that the suspected scammers were arrested in different locations in the capital Delhi and in the Palwal district, after stealing money worth crores.

The police said the operation to track down the fraudsters came after several banks complained of money disappearing from their customers’ accounts without them making any withdrawals, the report notes.

Apart from the arrest, many other items were recovered from the gang including a biometric machine (presumably a scanner), eleven bank cards of different banks, 270 SIM cards, a fingerprint rubber stamp machine, five bottles of rubber gel photo polymer, a laptop, a printer, a lamination machine, 2,078 copies of registries, 220 cloned fingerprints, 68 blank Aadhaar cards, 21 PAN cards, 64 passport size photographs, five Aadhaar cards and a pen drive, as listed by Times.

The police explained that when the fraudsters tried in vain to get the documents they used for their activity from registry offices, they resorted to a private individual who offered them the documents, with which they used fingerprints and biometric scanners to carry out their illegal operations.

The police said they were investigating the matter to find out who else was involved in the scam and how many people were affected by it.

Online fraud especially using the Aadhaar biometric system has become a mainstay in India lately especially with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senior police officers told the Times in a separate article that the incidents demonstrate the need for multi-factor authentication, and detailed the alleged criminals’ process.

“First, they would print images of the fingerprint on a butter paper, then place these prints on a sheet of a light-sensitive photopolymer, which would then be exposed to ultraviolet light,” Superintendent of Police (Palwal) Deepak Gahlawat told the Times. “The fingerprint clone obtained at the end of this process resembles an office rubber-stamp – which can be used on a biometric reader.”

The method is reported to have had a success rate of roughly 70 percent.

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