Bulgarian, Romanian Charged Over ATM ‘Skimming’ Scam

Two European men who were caught attempting to fit a skimming de­vice onto an ATM near Siem Reap City’s Central Market on Sat­urday were charged by the provincial court on Monday after they ad­mitted to stealing almost $14,000 us­ing the technique, officials said.

Phoeung Chendareth, deputy prov­incial police chief, said Bulgar­ian national Peter Atanasov, 44, and his Romanian counterpart, Mure­san Eugen-Horatiu, 52, were arrested after being spotted on a security cam­era by an ABA bank employee at one of its ATMs.

The arrests came after the bank no­ti­fied police that two customers reported having $21,000 stolen in De­cember, he said, adding that the suspects admitted to stealing $13,700.

“Both suspects were behaving strange­ly at the ATM  machine, then the bank reported to our po­lice,” Mr. Chendareth said.

The pair confessed to using the skimming device­—which copies data from cre­dit cards inserted into an ATM—in Cambodia, and then using the in­formation to withdraw cash at ABA banks in Laos, he said.

The pair were sent to the provincial court and charged with theft, said dep­uty provincial police chief Thong Sokhun.

“Now the suspects are in the prison,” he said, add­ing that language barriers had been an issue.

“We had an English translator for the suspects but the suspects pre­tended to not understand Eng­lish, so we provided a Russian trans­lator and then they pretended to not understand Russian,” he said, adding that the suspects eventually spoke in Russian.

Chandina Chap, public relations man­ager at ABA, said the defrauded customers had been paid back.

“After a well-coordinated joint op­eration of ABA security department and local police, we managed to de­tain the criminals,” she said in an email. “The mon­ey has been re­funded in full to the customers.”

In November, three Bulgarians were convicted of attempted theft for a failed bid to use a skimming de­vice on an ATM in Phnom Penh.

(Additional reporting by George Wright)

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