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THREE BULGARIAN NATIONALS CHARGED WITH ATM SKIMMING

February 24, 2010

BOSTON, MA - Three Bulgarian men were charged today in federal court with using counterfeit ATM cards, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft in connection with a skimming scheme in which they are alleged to have compromised numerous ATMs throughout eastern Massachusetts and stolen more than $120,000.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Steven Ricciardi, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, announced today that IVAYLO HRISTOV, age 28, ANTON VENKOV, age 40, both Bulgarian nationals who reside in Toronto, Canada, and VLADISLAV VLADEV, age 36, of Sofiya, Bulgaria, were each charged in an Indictment with using counterfeit ATM cards, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft in connection with the scheme. HRISTOV and VLADEV also were charged with possession of device-making equipment.

The Indictment alleges that between mid-December 2009 and the end of January 2010, the three used counterfeit ATM cards at numerous locations throughout Massachusetts using information that had been skimmed from the magnetic strips of legitimate ATM cards by a device they attached to the ATM. Is further alleged that they captured the corresponding PINs through the use of a concealed camera at the ATM. All three men had previously been arrested on Complaints in connection with the scheme.

If convicted on these charges, the defendants face up to 30 years’ imprisonment on the bank fraud charge as well as a fine of up to $1 million, up to 15 years’ imprisonment for possession of device-making equipment, and up to 10 years’ imprisonment for using a counterfeit ATM card, each of which are also punishable by fines of $250,000. A conviction for aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory 2-year prison term which must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed.

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, the investigations units at Citizens Bank and Bank of America, the Massachusetts State Police, the Milton Police Department, the Quincy Police Department, and the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra S. Bower of Ortiz's Economic Crimes Unit.

The details contained in the Indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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