Eastern Europeans could be behind ATM fraud – BPI

Mick Basa
Eastern Europeans could be behind ATM fraud – BPI
(UPDATED) The Bank of the Philippine Islands has information that the skimming activities are similar to what recently apprehended Bulgarians have employed

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) The Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) has received reports that the skimming activities done on its automated teller machines (ATM) in and around Metro Manila could be the handiwork of Eastern European scammers.

“Reports that we’re getting from other countries through our vendors [are that] they’re mostly Eastern Europeans,” Jose Victor Montenegro, BPI’s assistant vice president of ATM channel management division, told Rappler.

On Tuesday night, December 2, alias Fj Castle* posted on Facebook pictures of a a BPI ATM machine that has been tampered with. These were taken at FullyBooked near W building in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. The photos showed a device installed above the numeric keypad, apparently used to steal personal identity numbers (PIN), and another device in the part where cards are inserted by customers.

The BPI commended Castle for sharing the photos. His Facebook post has so far been shared more than 16,000 times.

“[Castle] did two things correctly: by putting it on social media, and, with the presence of mind, he called security immediately,” said Montenegro.

Intelligence from BPI’s ATM hardware vendors reveal that this kind of ATM scam has been linked to Eastern European fraudsters, as proven by recent apprehensions, said Montenegro. 

In November, a Bulgarian national was arrested in Pasay City for allegedly stealing money using a similar skimming device.

In May, two Bulgarians were also arrested in Barangay Lagundi, Mexico, Pampanga, over the same incident. Police said Mladenov Emil Stoyanov and Kanev Lyuven Georgiev were seen installing pin pads with a card skimmer above ATM keypads.

The BPI has assured its clients that it continues to upgrade and improve its security measures “to thwart elements attempting to defraud innocent cardholders of their hard-earned money.”

“We are currently pursuing leads so that these elements are stopped and brought to justice,” it said in a a statement.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) received 1,972 reports of ATM fraud from banks in 2013, involving a combined amount of P220 million.

To address this, BSP has told banks to shift from ATM magnetic stripe to EMV or Europay, MasterCard, and Visa chip by January 2017. –

*Name withheld upon request

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