Two tourists jailed over bank card scam

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2008, 12:00am

Two Britons who withdrew more than HK$380,000 from Standard Chartered Bank ATMs using stolen bank account data were each jailed for 40 months yesterday.

Nazir Zaheer Abbas and Raza Adhnan, both 23, had pleaded guilty in the District Court to one count of conspiracy to steal. Abbas also admitted one count of possessing false instruments.

The court heard earlier that the pair used mobile phone top-up cards with magnetic strips encoded with stolen Britons' bank data to withdraw cash from the ATMs.

They had arrived in Hong Kong on visitor's visas on April 18 last year. Over the following three days, HK$382,200 was withdrawn through two ATMs.

In passing sentence, Judge Esther Toh Lye-ping said the fraud was highly sophisticated and it was a very serious case. A degree of planning was involved, as the syndicate behind the scam planned for the data stolen in Britain to be used overseas.

Prosecutor Richard Ma earlier told the court the fraud came to light when a bank customer, Leung Po-man, became suspicious of the defendants when he was using an ATM on April 21 last year. He immediately alerted the police.

The police later intercepted the pair in Wan Chai and discovered Abbas was carrying 20 mobile phone top-up cards.

Another 248 mobile phone top-up cards with magnetic strips encoded with overseas credit card or bank account data were retrieved during a search of their Yau Ma Tei hotel room.

The accounts involved 20 banks in Britain, as well as Visa and MasterCard accounts.