THE Philippine National Police headed by Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. de la Rosa are tracking down a gang of Central European nationals who have gained notoriety for their involvement in illicit drug trafficking and Automated Teller Machine or ATM skimming abroad before going to the country to perpetrate their illegal activities, senior PNP officials told the Journal Group yesterday.
Quezon City Police District director, Chief Superintendent Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said that one of the members of the Central Europe criminal organization is Orlin Grozdanov Stoev, the Bulgarian ATM skimming artist who was shot dead by two motorcycle-riding gunmen in Q.C. last July 6.
“Stoev is the subject of criminal information from his native country Bulgaria where he has been described as a possible threat to national security,” Eleazar said citing information from the Interpol.
The Interpol said that on December 18, 2014, Bulgarian law enforcement authorities sought a ‘Red Notice’ for the apprehension of Stoev who was born on April 25, 1979. The Interpol described Stoev as a ‘member of an organized crime group involved in drug trafficking, theft of automobiles, armed robberies of houses and jewellery shops, illegal trafficking of women, etc.’
The Bulgarian is believed to have fled to Asia after he and his gang became wanted in their own country and other parts of Central Europe. Once they have set foot in Manila, the Central Europeans organized their group of expert ATM skimmers who are believed to have stolen millions of pesos from ATM machines across the country.
The end for the member of the notorious gang of ATM skimmers believed to have been taking advantage of lax laws in the country that allows them to post bail as soon as they are arrested came the other week when he was shot dead in Q.C.
Eleazar said they are still investigating who killed the 38-year old Stoev at the corner of Kalayaan Avenue and Kamias Road in Barangay Pinyahan, Q.C. around 10:20 p.m. last July 6.
Investigators are looking into the possibility that the Bulgarian was ordered killed by his fellow ATM skimmers after he was able to post bail to prevent him from cooperating with the police and spilling the beans on other members of the foreign high-tech syndicate.
Last June 14, Stoev was found to have made a number of unauthorized ATM withdrawals from a bank in Galas, Q.C. using cloned ATM cards when arrested by members of the QCPD Station 11 headed by Senior Supt. Christian V. de la Cruz near a bank on Kitanlad Street in Bgy. Tatalon.
An investigation showed that before he was arrested, a roving and monitoring security guard of the bank saw the foreigner making prolonged and multiple transactions at the ATM booth he was guarding.
When arrested, the Bulgarian yielded 15 cloned black ATM cards, P51,000 he withdrew from the ATM booth, a Pocket Wifi, a Samsung android phone, nine assorted plastic cards and a Honda Click motorcycle.
Since 2015, PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) director, Senior Superintendent Marni C. Marcos said that dozens of foreign ATM scammers have been arrested by the police following information provided by concerned citizens, specifically alert bank security guards. If convicted, ATM scammers in the country face six years to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of P10,000 or twice the value obtained by the offender.
The QCPD director said they are coordinating with the PNP-ACG, concerned banks, the Credit Card Association of the Philippines and the Anti-Money Laundering Council about their ongoing investigation into the case.
PNP agents have made several high-profile arrests of foreign ATM scammers including that of a 32-year old Bulgarian who was once jailed by Paraguayan authorities in 2011 for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from the accounts of Bill Gates, the world’s richest man.
Bulgarian Konstantin Simeonov Kavrakov was arrested while in the act of withdrawing money using different counterfeit bank cards at the ATM machine of a bank branch along Quezon Avenue in Q.C.
On November 8 last year, Taguig City policemen arrested Bulgarian Simeon Tsennov Lefterski, 28, while withdrawing money from an ATM machine at the Market-Market Mall in Global City using different ATM cards and a 7-Eleven Reward Card. The suspect also yielded 37 pieces of cloned 7-Eleven Reward Cards, nine white cards, P31,840 in cash and his Alien Certificate of Registration.
On October 31 of the same year, two Romanian nationals accused of involvement in high-tech illegal money withdrawal scheme were also arrested by the police in an operation in Mandaue City in Cebu.
Suspects Petru Loan Uveges,43; and Stefania Michaela Osman,36, were caught in the act of making unauthorized withdrawals from an ATM machine in Barangay Tipolo in Mandaue City using fake credit cards.
Another Romanian economist named Gheorghe Adelin Stretsu was also arrested for the same offense on September last year. In May 2015, police also arrested two Bulgarian nationals identified as Mladenor Emil Stoyanov and Kanev Lyuben Georgrive for their involvement in an international ATM fraud scheme. The two Bulgarians were caught installing ATM skimming devices on the pin pad of an ATM booth of Banco de Oro inside SM City Pampanga.