Agents of international racket in police net

KATHMANDU, Dec 12: Police on Wednesday made public three individuals who are being interrogated over their alleged involvement in ATM heist and swindling people in lottery scam at the behest of international racket.

Ramesh Khadka of Dolakha, Bishweshwar Prasad Tiwari and Sandip Kalwar of Nawalparasi were working as agents of an international nexus which is found to have stolen around Rs 146 million in ATM heist involving multiple banks, police claimed. They were arrested from various places in the capital over the last week.

The arrestees were getting somewhere between 15 to 35 percent in cuts for stealing the money and sending it to the masterminds through illegal channel.

The arrestees could be part of the same racket that was busted earlier this year.

In September, police had arrested around 13 individuals for stealing Rs 47.3 million from various ATMs of Agricultural Development Bank.

Preliminary investigation shows that the nexus, allegedly operating from India, Pakistan, China, Nigeria and the UK, is also ripping off millions from impressionable people with various lottery scams.

Details are scarce but officers involved in the investigation say that the victims were targeted through networking sites like Viber, Whatsapp, IMO and Facebook. The Nepali agents were found linking the masterminds with the vulnerable targets.

The alleged masterminds including Indians and Nigerians, identified as Peter Herman Agensa and Smith Morris, have around 45 contacts in Nepal to help them with lottery scam and ATM frauds.

SSP Uttam Raj Subedi said that the investigation was still in early phase although it is apparent that the fraud racket is spread across the country.

Nepali banks and financial institutions have been soft target of ATM frauds in the recent months, while many Nepalis are falling prey to lottery scams.

Since August, police have arrested at least a dozen foreigners, mainly Chinese, for allegedly stealing money from ATMs of various banks after hacking their account.In the wake of the widespread ATM heists, banks and financial institutions have tightened transactions through ATMs and imposed an unannounced prohibition from withdrawing money from India.

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