ATM Skimming Ring Targeted in MA.Police Arrest 3 Suspects Connected to String of ATM Thefts The U.S. Secret Service has broken up an alleged ring of ATM skimmers in Massachusetts, announcing the arrests of three suspects -- including one man who was in possession of nearly $100,000 when he was arrested.
Anton Venkov, 40, of Toronto, Canada, was arrested Jan. 28 in Boston and charged with using counterfeit bank account access codes. He was to face a judge in federal court on Feb. 2. Police say he was found carrying $99,100 in $20 bills in his car when arrested at a hotel in Boston.
Another man alleged involved, Vladislav Vladev, 36, of Quincy, MA, was also arrested Jan. 28 while sitting on a plane that was headed for Germany, say Norfolk County prosecutors. Vladev was arraigned in Quincy District Court on larceny and identity fraud charges relating to a theft from a Milton, MA ATM. He is being held on $1 million cash bail and had a hearing set for Feb. 2.
Police say the group set up skimmers with pinhole cameras on Bank of America and Citizens Bank ATMs in the greater Boston area. The Secret Service learned in December that a Bank of America ATM in Saugus, MA had been rigged with the scanner device, called a skimmer, and a pinhole camera, according to a court affidavit from a Secret Service agent. A surveillance photo showed Vladev attaching the skimmer, the affidavit says.
Police were informed on Jan. 22 of ATM tampering at Citizens Bank locations in Quincy, Milton, Braintree and Somerville, MA. Surveillance photos showed the same men at the Citizens locations. Three days later, photos showed the men rigging Bank of America ATM machines in Saugus, Milton, Weymouth, Cambridge, Dorchester and Roslindale.
Prosecutors say Venkov and Vladev teamed up with Ivaylo Hristov, 28, of Ontario, arrested on Jan. 27, and stole debit and credit card data and PIN numbers by placing scanner devices and hidden cameras in ATM machines at several locations. Authorities believe they have stolen at least $100,000 from customers at Citizens Bank and other institutions.
Hristov was also charged in the Milton ATM theft and ordered held on $500,000 cash bail. He was charged with a similar scheme in Quincy and was ordered held on $1 million cash bail.
When Hristov was arrested near a Citizens ATM in Quincy, he had $1,380 in $20 bills, as well as Dunkin' Donuts gift cards and American Express cards with post-it notes that had "PIN'' and various numbers written on them.
Hristov told Quincy police he got 10 percent from the thieves' withdrawals and gave the rest to be deposited into an account in Chicago, IL. Hristov and Venkov told authorities that they were born in Bulgaria and held Canadian citizenship. David Traub, a spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney William Keating, says authorities think this gang is responsible for most of the recent ATM thefts in Eastern Massachusetts.
These incidents are among many similar crimes nationwide, representing the growing number of ATM fraud incidents striking banking institutions and their customers.