Seventeen individuals were indicted in U.S. District Court in Chicago for their involvement in an international ATM skimming scheme that made them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The ruse, which took place from May 2011 to September 2012, involved ATM and debit card numbers – including the PIN numbers for each – that were stolen in Europe, according to the indictment filed this month.
After creating replicas of the cards with the stolen data, money mules at various ATM locations in Chicago would then withdraw cash from the victims' accounts.
In total, the scheme allegedly netted the defendants approximately $250,000.
Two of the defendants – Radoslav Pavlov, 36, and Mihail Petrov, 41 – were arrested in their native Sofia, Bulgaria, and charged with wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy and money laundering. Authorities are currently seeking their extradition so they may face these charges.
Of the other defendants, 13 were arrested in the Chicago area on Tuesday, one is a fugitive and the last is in state custody and will face federal charges on a date that is to be determined.
The ploy was allegedly organized by Pavlov and Petrov, as well as 46-year-old Domeniko Evitmov of Chicago, who is currently in state custody, according to a release by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois.
The three, who were located outside of the U.S. at the time, compromised the financial information and sent it via Skype or email to Gheorgui Martov, 39, of Schiller Park, Ill. Martov would then direct the other defendants to make the fraudulent withdrawals at the ATMs.
“Cooperation with international law enforcement agencies was crucial to the investigation, and we are grateful for the assistance that led to these arrests,” Robert Holley, special agent-in-charge of the Chicago office of the FBI, said in the release.