Bulgarian admits to stealing from Singapore ATMs

He came to Singapore to commit crime and attempted to illegally withdraw about $2,000 in cash from ATMs here using cloned cards.

Bulgarian Pavlov Nedyalko Momchilov, 48, pleaded guilty in court yesterday to eight counts of abetment by conspiracy to commit theft involving a total of $900.

Nine other counts for the same offence, involving about $1,100 in all, will be taken into consideration during sentencing.

Momchilov was in Bulgaria in July last year when an unknown man offered him a job withdrawing money from ATMs in Singapore by using cards the latter had prepared.

In need of money, Momchilov accepted the offer.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Suhas Malhotra said the accused was promised a 20 per cent cut of any monies he successfully withdrew.

"The cloned ATM cards were given to the accused just before he left for the Bulgarian airport to travel to Singapore. The PIN numbers were written on the cards."

Momchilov arrived in Singapore on Sept 4 last year and attempted to withdraw cash from different ATMs islandwide between then and Sept 8.

He tried but failed to withdraw between $100 and $300 from UOB ATMs in buildings such as Far East Shopping Centre, Orchard Towers and Changi Airport Terminal 1.

DPP Malhotra told District Judge Imran Hamid that Momchilov's repeated unsuccessful transactions raised red flags.

There was also CCTV footage of him committing his offences.

On Sept 7, UOB vice-president, Mr Desmond Goh Khiaw Siang, was alerted by the bank's unit card centre that several cloned cards had been recovered at the airport and Far East Shopping Centre. He lodged a police report and officers arrested Momchilov two days later when he tried to leave Singapore.

DPP Malhotra urged the judge to jail him for between nine months and a year, saying that such offences were difficult to detect and was also extremely difficult to separate legitimate withdrawals from fraudulent ones.

Momchilov will be back in court on Jan 25. For each count of abetment by conspiracy to commit theft, he can be jailed up to nine months and fined.

This article was first published on Jan 19, 2017.
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