Bulgarian Nationals Plead Guilty to Credit Card Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft in Scheme to Defraud ATM Customers at Various Banks in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Paula A. Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, Miami Field Office, announce that defendants Aleksandar Nikolov and Toscho Ilyeff, two Bulgarian national citizens, pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas to charges of access device fraud and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029 (a)(2) and 1028A(1)(a)(3). During the plea, the defendants consented to forfeiture of computers, and $12,673.38 in cash found in their possession at the time of arrest.
Sentencing has been scheduled for August 31, 2012 at 1:15 p.m. At sentencing, the defendants face a maximum possible statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison on the access device fraud count and a mandatory 2 year sentence on the aggravated identity theft count, consecutive to the sentence imposed on the access device fraud.
According to documents filed with the court and statements made during the plea hearing, JP Morgan Chase employees monitored the activity of a group of individuals who had installed skimming devices on the banks ATMs at various locations to capture the bank customers’ account numbers as they inserted their debit cards into the ATMs. In particular, defendants Nikolov and Ilyeff installed a wireless camera disguised as a speaker to record customers typing their pin numbers. The defendants transmitted the footage in real time via radio frequency waves to a cell phone they controlled. After recording the customers’ account and PIN numbers, the defendants re-encoded this information onto VISA gift or debit cards and store gift cards. In this way, from February through March 2012, the defendants used the counterfeit cards to withdraw cash from the customers’ accounts at ATMs throughout Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties.
According to court records, this scheme caused a loss to JP Morgan Chase of approximately $112,478.60. In addition, the defendants stole the personal identification information of more than 800 victims in South Florida.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Secret Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Laurie E. Rucoba.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.