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)