Bulgarian Arrested, Charged In Latest ATM Fraud Attempt

A Bulgarian man was charged with attempted theft on Sunday for us­ing a card-skimming device at an ATM in Siem Reap City, police said—the third such case involving Bulgarian nationals in as many months.

“We have the evidence, and he confessed to attempting to steal the [ATM] card information,” said Thong Sokun, a deputy provincial police chief, adding that the suspect, Stoyanov Tsvetozar Nikolaev, 29, had been sent to the provincial prison to await trial.

Mr. Nikolaev was arrested on Saturday in the bathroom of the Home Cocktail restaurant in Svay Dang­kum commune, about 300 meters from the ABA Bank branch where he had placed the card-skimming device on an ATM, said Phoeung Chendareth, another deputy provincial police chief.

“After we received an alert from the bank staff, we went to observe the situation,” he said, adding that plainclothes police officers arrived near the ATM around 9:30 a.m.

Mr. Nikolaev returned at 11:40 a.m. to collect his equipment, then ran back to the restaurant after realizing he was being watched, Mr. Chen­­dareth said. The suspect was arrested while attempting to hide the device in the restaurant’s bathroom.

“The suspect confessed that he had tried to attach his device to a dif­ferent ABA ATM earlier that day, but it didn’t fit, so he tried at the one outside the [provincial] re­­ferral hospital,” he said.

Chea Sovanna, assistant to the gen­eral manager of Home Cock­tail, said Mr. Nikolaev had spent all morning drinking coffee and soda water at the restaurant be­fore paying his bill and leaving at about 11:30 a.m.

Earlier this month, a Bulgarian and Romanian were charged with us­ing a card-skimming machine at another ABA ATM in the city.

Mr. Sokhun said police did not be­lieve the two cases were related.

In November, three Bulgarians were convicted over a failed at­tempt to install a card-skimming ma­chine on an ANZ Royal ATM in Phnom Penh.

(Additional reporting by Peter Ford)

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