Wed, Oct 15, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Police say they already have two suspects in custody

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A man and a woman were arrested for using a forged ATM card to withdraw cash could be part of a criminal group that illegally withdrew more than NT$9 million from 80 accounts over the weekend, the National Police Administration's Criminal Investigation Bureau said yesterday.

The suspects, who were identified as Soong Jen-chao (宋仁照) and Chou Shi-hsuan (周詩軒), from Taichung County, were arrested by Taichung police. Soong was arrested in Fengyuan while withdrawing cash from a Taiwan Cooperative Bank (合作金庫) ATM at around 2am on Friday.

Chou was arrested yesterday in Taichung City.

Police found seven forged ATM cards on Soong. In total, the couple were found to have 1,400 forged cards, police said.

"He admitted to the crime and told us that we should be looking for another seven suspects who worked with him," said Chou Yu-wei (周幼偉), captain of the investigation bureau's Seventh Division. "However, we are still investigating whether these suspects are the same group of suspects we are looking for regarding the Bank of Taiwan ATM card frauds over the weekend."

According to the police, Soong and his partners targeted ATMs in bank lobbies. The gang replaced the card-readers on the doors with their own, which still opened the doors but also recorded information from cards. They then installed hidden cameras to record the personal identification numbers of card users.

With the information from the magnetic strips on the cards and the personal identification numbers, the gang could make fake ATM cards.

"As far as we are concerned, Soong and his colleagues have installed the card-readers and hidden cameras at more than three ATMs. But we are still trying to figure out exactly how many and where these machines are," Chou said.

The fraud was first detected on Friday at a Bank of Taiwan in Tainan, where police collected more than 10 fingerprints from an ATM. Further illegal withdrawals were then discovered at several other banks across the country.

The Ministry of Justice has asked the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office to lead the investigation.

"We will work with the investigation bureau's Seventh Division to figure out the connections between Soong and the crime," said Liao Tsung-shan (廖宗山), chief of the Tainan City Police Department's Criminal Investigation Corps.

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