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Alleged fraud against NCB could pass $100m; another arrest likely

BY TANESHA MUNDLE
Observer staff reporter
mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

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THE multimillion-dollar bank fraud committed at the National Commercial Bank, for which three St Ann residents are charged, is now said to have gone beyond $100 million, with a fourth St Ann resident to be charged.

This was revealed in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court by the prosecutor when the three accused reappeared in court yesterday on new charges of unauthorised access to data.

The trio — 20-year-old Romane Strachan, a technician of Hinds Town; 32-year-old Andre Harvey, businessman of Chalky Hill; and 26-year-old Kever Calbert, unemployed of Brown's Town — are charged with conspiracy to defraud.

Strachan and Harvey were additionally charged with unauthorised interception of computer function, while Calbert was charged with two counts of unauthorised access to computer data.

Attorney for the accused, Christopher Townsend, started a bail application for the men yesterday but it was put on hold in order for the prosecution to disclose all that it has on file. Consequently, the men were remanded and are to return to court next on January 29.

The allegations before the court are that on November 28, 2018 police personnel in Hanover received information that suspicious-looking men were seen in the Green Island area tampering with an NCB automated banking machine (ABM). Police proceeded to the area where the three were reportedly seen in the vicinity of the ABM and taken into custody.

The court heard that on the same day, the police contacted NCB and made enquiries. Surveillance footage that was subsequently obtained allegedly showed Strachan affixing a skimming/copying device to the ABM where he was arrested.

Following investigations, all three were charged with conspiracy to defraud.

Harvey was later charged in relation to an incident in December 2017.

It is alleged that on December 16, 2017, about 1:15 am, an NCB customer, while using an ABM at a gas station at Gore Terrace in St Andrew, noticed a suspicious-looking device attached to the banking machine.

The device was reportedly retrieved and taken to an NCB representative who confirmed that it was a skimming device used to copy and capture the magnetic strip information stored on the back of credit and debit cards.

Surveillance footage subsequently obtained from the ABM reportedly showed the accused affixing the card-skimming/copying device to the ABM about 12:17 am on the same day.

In respect to Calbert, it is alleged that surveillance footage reportedly showed him withdrawing $90,000 from NCB's ABM in Liguanea, St Andrew, on September 13 last year. The footage was retrieved after a customer reported that several unauthorised transactions were made against his account.

However, Townsend told the court that the video footage in relation to Harvey just showed him being inside where the machine is housed, adding that his client went there to withdraw money from his personal account.

“They are saying a device was attached by him but the video clip does not show that; it shows a person standing but does not show anything below the upper torso,” he said.

“If it is that all the footages that the Crown is relying on [it is likely] that they are going to have an uphill task,” Townsend added.

The investigators, in the meantime, said they need some more time to complete their investigations as they only have one person who can examine the machines where it was suspected that tampering took place, based on complaints.

The prosecutor, meanwhile, told the court that based on new complaints, one customer lost $46,000 from his account, while another lost $100,000 and his card allegedly cloned and used to make point of sale transactions of more than $600,000.


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