Gang cloning credit cards in Penang hotel busted

(From left) Penang Commercial Crime Department deputy chief Supt Teh Eng Hin and ACP Mior looking at a cloned credit card during a press conference at the George Town police headquarters.
(From left) Penang Commercial Crime Department deputy chief Supt Teh Eng Hin and ACP Mior looking at a cloned credit card during a press conference at the George Town police headquarters. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR / ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Six men booked two suites at a five-star hotel in Batu Ferringhi, costing about RM500 (S$170) per room a night, and turned it into a base to make cloned credit cards.

However, a police report made by the hotel's representative who suspected the men, all locals, had used forged credit cards resulted in the police raiding the suites.

George Town OCPD assistant commissioner Mior Faridalathrash Wahid said the suspects, aged between 28 and 33, all unemployed, were arrested at about 11.15am on Friday (July 8).

"Policemen from the Commercial Crime Department of the Penang police headquarters were monitoring the suspects following the report.

"The men were arrested after police stormed the suites," he told reporters here on Monday (July 11).

He said the men had started staying in the suites only recently.

ACP Mior said the police recovered several machines used to make cloned cards, a magnetic stripe card reader writer encoder, two laptops, 427 forged Visa and MasterCard magnetic stripes from various overseas banks, eight mobile phones, two Hong Kong identity cards, one Singapore identity card, 12 merchant bank slips and 46 hotel room access cards during the raid.

"Preliminary investigations showed that the suspects had been working with foreign syndicates to obtain details of existing credit card holders before encoding and writing their details onto the forged cards.

"They then used the credit cards to make purchases at shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang, and also to pay for their hotel stays.

"To make their transactions smooth and to avoid any query, the suspects also held fake identity cards, which they would present when they are questioned about their nationality."

ACP Mior added that all the transaction charges would be imposed on the real card holder but Penang police have yet to receive any report from the victims, as they are all believed to be foreigners.

"We are now investigating the total loss involved and will contact the credit card service providers to obtain details of the victims."

He said the suspects were remanded until today to assist in the investigations.