Monday, November 24, 2008

Five arrested for role in ATM 'skimming' racket - - 19 Nov 08

Multinational gang targeted tourist hotspots

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and police have charged three Thais and two Romanians with credit card fraud for installing skimmer devices and spy cameras on ATMs to copy the card data on to magnetic strips and to see the PIN numbers.

DSI deputy chief Pol Col Narat Sawettanant estimated the transnational gang had caused around 50 million baht of damage.

Pol Snr Sgt-Maj Pramote Piathong, 41, Ionut Buliarca, 28 and Robert Rotru, 29, were arrested on Monday at a beer garden in the Esplanade shopping complex.

Their testimony led to the arrest of Jirayos Siribawornkiat, 43, and Pontagorn Deeprasert. Two other suspects are still at large, police said.

They were charged with credit card fraud and using counterfeit credit cards.

Police sought warrants for their arrest from the Min Buri Court after tracking down the gang, which used card information obtained from skimmers and spy cameras to produce fake cards.

They then used the cards to purchase goods or to withdraw cash from the card owners' accounts.

Items seized from the suspects included skimmer devices, two spy cameras, a gun and four mobile phones.

Police believed the suspects had close links with a local gang, led by Thibodi Theera-udomgul, arrested on Sept 5 together with five other members, 25 counterfeit cards and 102 sets of card data in the Chang Wattana area of Nonthaburi.

Somchai Pichitsurakij, president of the Fraud Working Group, said fraudulent transactions cost each bank 10-15 million baht a year.

"The gangs operate at tourist areas, for example Phuket, Phangnga, Krabi, Chiang Mai and Bangkok's Ratchadaphisek, Sukhumvit and Siam Square," he said.


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