Bulgarians arrested in Phuket for ATM skimming

Bulgarians arrested in Phuket for ATM skimming
Three Bulgarian men arrested for allegedly skimming ATM cards appear at a police press conference in Phuket about their arrest yesterday.

PHUKET, Thailand - Three Bulgarian men were arrested in Phuket yesterday for skimming ATM cards and making withdrawals from hacked accounts totalling more than Bt170,000 (S$6,698).

Thirty-seven magnetic cards were found in their possession.

They were charged with colluding to falsify electronic cards and possession of the cards with the intent of illegal use.

Tsvetozar Georgiev Slavchev, 44, was arrested while withdrawing money from an ATM in front of a Super Cheap convenience store at Karon Beach at 1am.

"We have CCTV recordings of Slavchev making seven withdrawals from that ATM totalling Bt70,000," said Phuket Provincial Police Deputy Superintendent Prawit Engchuan.

Valentin Guenadiev Nikolov, 42, was placed under arrest at an ATM in front of a Family Mart convenience store on the Patong beach road.

"Nikolov had withdrawn about Bt100,000 from a tourist's account," Lt-Colonel Prawit said.

Officers had staked out the ATM after the tourist had shown police an automated message sent to his mobile phone by his bank, noting that a withdrawal had been made - a withdrawal that the tourist said he knew nothing about, Prawit explained.

Meanwhile, Tsvetan Nestorov Yanev, 42, was arrested at an ATM in front of a 7-Eleven store in Kata-Karon.

During questioning, Yanev confessed that he had fitted skimming devices to ATMs in Phuket to steal ATM card data so it could be used later to make withdrawals, Prawit said.

"Officers seized 100 magnetic electronic cards and other electronic devices used to make the withdrawals," he added.

The arrests came after more than 100 people, including tourists, reported to police that they were victims of ATM skimming, Prawit said.

"We need to know to which accounts in which countries the stolen money was transferred to and we have to investigate who else was involved in these thefts," Prawit said. "We are continuing our investigation and coordinating with banks in tracing the transactions."

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