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3 Bulgarians charged in 44-day ATM hacking spree

Skimming proceeds top $137,000

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Three Bulgarian men were charged Wednesday with defrauding banks of more than $137,000 in a scheme that attached electronic skimming devices to numerous automatic teller machines in Massachusetts.

In the 44-day hacking spree, the men planted skimmers on ATMs maintained by Bank of America and Citizens Bank and secretly recorded information stored on the magnetic strips of cards as they were being used. The men also allegedly used concealed cameras to record the corresponding personal identification numbers.

The men compromised "numerous" ATMs throughout eastern Massachusetts and stole more than $120,000, according to a press release issued by federal prosecutors in Boston. Court documents filed in the case said proceeds from the alleged crime were $137,724.

Wednesday's indictment named Ivaylo Hristov, 28, and Anton Venkov, 40, both Bulgarian nationals who resided in Toronto. It also named Vladislav Vladev, 36, of Sofiya, Bulgaria. They were each charged with using counterfeit ATM cards, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Hristov and Vladev were also charged with possession of device-making equipment.

If convicted, Hristov and Vladev face a maximum of 57 years in prison and $1.25m in fines. Venkov faces a maximum of 42 years and fines of $1.25m. Attempts to reach the men or their attorneys for comment were not successful.

Police in Utah said recently that skimmers attached to a gas station pump stole at least $11,000 and may have remained active for as long as 60 days. ®

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