THE Philippine National Police leadership headed by Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa yesterday asked the public anew to be on guard against the possible resurgence of different scams involving the use of ATM and credit cards this coming Yuletide Season.
Saying ‘it’s better to be safe than sorry,’ the PNP is asking the citizenry to be wary of different modus operandi being used by syndicates, some of them foreign scam artists now staying in the country to steal the money of unsuspecting Filipinos.
As part of the national police’s ‘be alert and be safe’ program, PNP spokesman, Senior Superintendent Dionardo B. Carlos said that as much as possible, all Filipinos should be ‘scam smart people’ and be wary of the presence of Automated Teller Machine or ATM scams where ATM scammers have become more technology-savvy through the years.
ATM scammers face charges for violation of Republic Act 8484 otherwise known as the “Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998 which is punishable with six years to as much as 20 years imprisonment and a fine of P10,000 or twice the value obtained by the offender.
Last November 6, a 41-year old Bulgarian national landed in a Bulacan police jail after being arrested for involvement in ATM fraud, Bulacan Police Provincial Office director, Senior Superintendent Romeo M. Caramat Jr. said.
Orlin Grozdanov Stoev, the Bulgarian who refused to name the hotel in Manila where he was staying prior to his arrest, was accosted by members of the Guiguinto Municipal Police Station while making withdrawals at a Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) ATM machine in Barangay Sta. Cruz at 3:48 a.m. last November 6, said Caramat.
The official said that the Guiguinto policemen under Supt. Julius Caesar Domingo were conducting roving patrol in the area when a BPI guard named John Andrew Buan approached them and called their attention regarding the dubious activity of the European national while making ATM withdrawals in the area.
An investigation showed that around 2:45 a.m. of the day, Buan was withdrawing money from his ATM account in the area when he spotted the suspect who was also making withdrawals in another machine. The guard became suspicious of the foreigner’s actuation and followed him after he finished his transaction. However, Buan said he lost sight of the Caucasian.
Minutes later, the guard said he again saw the suspect returning in the area and making several withdrawals again. The guard then said that he later received a call from their head office informing him that the suspect was covering the ATM booth’s CCTV camera with a paper while making withdrawals.
After being instructed to hold the suspect, Buan said he spotted the patrolling Guiguinto policemen and immediately sought their assistance in accosting the suspect. When taken to the local police headquarters for investigation, the suspect was found in possession of 20 assorted foreign ATM cards with three transaction receipts amounting to P40,000. Caramat said that a Filipino accomplice of Stoev is still being hunted. He said that they discovered that the suspect has been staying in the Philippines as a tourist for the past 22 days before he was arrested.
The Bulgarian has been charged for violation of RA 8483.
Since 2015, 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 by combined agents of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission and the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in a sting in Quezon City. Kavrakov was arrested while in the act of withdrawing money using different counterfeit bank cards at the ATM machine of the PS 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.
Although he denied the allegations, Lefterski was placed under arrest after a review of the CCTV footage in the area showed him making the illegal ATM withdrawals. The suspect also yielded 37 pieces of 7-Eleven Reward Cards, nine white cards, P31,840 in cash and his Alien Certificate of Registration.
A check also showed that the 39 different cards seized from the Bulgarian’s possession were all cloned ATM cards as certified by the Bank of the Philippine Islands.
On October 31 of the same year, two Romanian nationals accused of involvement in high-tech illegal money withdrawal scheme were also arrested by agents of the PNP-CIDG and the local police in an operation in Mandaue City in Cebu.
Suspects Petru Loan Uveges, 43, and Stefania Mihaela 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. Recovered from the suspects’ possession were the P52,000 they withdrew from the ATM machine and nearly 100 cloned cards including 67 pieces of British Export Cards.