THE Philippine National Police leadership yesterday called anew on the public to be vigilant in reporting the presence of Automated Teller Machine or ATM scam artists from Central Europe particularly Romania and Bulgaria who have gained notoriety for withdrawing huge amount of cash from ATM machines in different parts of the country using fraudulent bank cards.
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 as much as 20 years imprisonment and a fine of P10,000 or twice the value obtained by the offender.
“We are asking for the help of the vigilant public in jailing these foreign con artists and likewise have sought the assistance of the Bureau of Immigration in seeing to it that as soon as they manage to post bail, these ATM scammers will be branded as undesirable aliens and immediately deported from the country,” Marcos, a member of Philippine Military Academy ‘Maringal’ Class of 1988, told People’s Tonight.
Last June 14 alone, Quezon City Police District agents under Chief Supt. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar arrested a 38-year old Bulgarian national who was found to have made a number of unauthorized ATM withdrawals from a bank in Galas, Q.C. using cloned ATM cards.
Eleazar said that suspect Orlin Grozdanov Stoev was arrested for ATM fraud by members of the QCPD Station 11 headed by Senior Supt. Christian V. de la Cruz near a bank on Kitanlad Street in Barangay Tatalon.
An investigation showed that around 1 a.m. on Wednesday last week, a roving and monitoring security guard of the bank saw the foreigner making prolonged and multiple ATM transactions at the ATM booth. The motorcycle-riding Caucasian wore a mask and a helmet in an obvious effort to conceal his identity from the CCTV cameras.
Unknown to the suspect, he was tailed by the monitoring guard to a bank near Trinity College on E. Rodriguez Avenue where he again made withdrawals. Eleazar said that the guard then alerted a group of QCPD Station 11 policemen who were then on patrol.
The suspect tried to flee but was cornered by the lawmen along Banawe Street corner E. Rodriguez Avenue. Seized from his possession were 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.
Eleazar said that they have discovered that the suspect was arrested on November 6, 2016 by the Guiguinto Police Station in Bulacan while doing the same modus operandi at one Guiguinto bank branch. The Bulgarian then yielded 20 assorted foreign ATM cards and three transaction receipts amounting to P40,000. He however managed to post bail too.
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 while in the act of withdrawing money using different counterfeit bank cards at the ATM machine 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.
Lefterski was caught 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 one Philippine bank.
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. Recovered from the suspects’ possession were the P52,000 they withdrew from the ATM machine, nearly 100 pieces of counterfeit credit cards and three ATM transaction slips with P10,000 withdrawals each.
Police tagged the two suspects as members of the so-called “Romania Cyber Crime Syndicate” which gained notoriety for withdrawing cash from ATM machines in Cebu thru the use of fake British Export Cards.
Another Romanian economist named Gheorghe Adelin Stretsu was also arrested for the same offense in 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 inside SM City Pampanga.