HSBC claims customer fraud in Indian services center

Bank says 'co-fraudsters' got $425,000 from 20 customers

HSBC Electronic Data Processing (India) Private Ltd. has claimed that an employee stole confidential data and misused it to defraud 20 of the bank's customers in London to the tune of $425,000.

The company is a back-office processing and customer support operation of British bank HSBC Bank PLC.

In a complaint lodged with the Bangalore police on June 22, HSBC Electronic Data Processing alleged that Nadeem Kashmiri accessed personal information, security information and debit card information of some of its U.K. customers and passed it to "co-fraudsters" who conducted phony transactions through cash machines, debit cards and telephone banking services.

Officials at HSBC Electronic Data Processing were not immediately available for comment.

Police said Tuesday that they expect to arrest Kashmiri. Kashmiri gave the company a fake address, which has made tracing him difficult, said Sanjay Vir Singh, deputy inspector general of police and head of the cybercrime cell in Bangalore. Kashmiri was suspended from the company on June 3.

HSBC Electronic Data Processing has alleged in its complaint that Kashmiri joined the company on Dec. 12, 2005, on "false records and misrepresentation."

The National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) in Delhi has set up a national skills registry (NSR) of employees of back-office operations and call centers in order to provide employers with information about potential workers. The NSR has been designed to ensure data authenticity through independent and biometric identification of the individuals, according to Nasscom.

The name Kashmiri is not, however, in the NSR, and HSBC Electronic Data Processing is not a registry member, according to informed sources. Nasscom in a statement offered to help Indian and U.K. authorities apprehend the suspects in the HSBC case. Cybercrime is not unique to India, the association said.

Several organizations, including workers' unions, criticize the offshore outsourcing of call center and other business processes from the U.S. and U.K. to Indian companies and claim that it causes job loss in their countries. The danger of data theft and misuse has also been raised as a key offshore outsourcing issue.

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