Bulgarian Citizen Sentenced in ATM Skimming Case
Maryland ATM Skimming Fraud Stopped
Forty-year-old Stoycho Ivanov Lazarov, a Bulgarian citizen residing in Millersville, Maryland, was sentenced to 48 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $185,512 in restitution after entering a guilty plea in a U.S. District Court for bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
According to his guilty plea, Lazarov illegally entered the United States sometime before September 2000 and used a fraudulent immigration document to obtain a Social Security card. Lazarov then participated in an ATM skimming operation throughout Maryland from at least September 2009 through November 2010.
Lazarov, acting alone and with others, illegally obtained ATM debit and credit card account numbers and personal identification numbers (PINs) by installing and using small skimming devices and miniature cameras. ATM skimmers were placed over the slot where customers inserted their debit or credit cards and captured the account information from each card that passed through the skimmer. Miniature cameras captured the PIN numbers as the customers entered them on the keypad.
For example, on May 29 and 30, 2010, Lazarov installed an ATM skimmer on bank ATMs in Westminster and Finksburg, Maryland. The equipment was removed a few hours later after capturing the account information of multiple victim customers. Lazarov and others used the debit card numbers and PINs later to illegally withdraw at least $30,657 from the accounts of 28 victims.
In September and October, 2010, Lazarov and his associates placed ATM skimmers on bank ATMs in Annapolis and Ellicott City, Maryland. Later they used the stolen account information to illegally withdraw at least $78,860 from 71 Annapolis victims' accounts, and $75,994.50 from 68 Ellicott City victims' account.
These tips will help you protect your personal information and avoid becomming a victim:
- Before using a ATM, parking machine, gas pump or other credit card reader inspect it and be suspicious if anything is loose, crooked, damaged, scratched or has adhesive/tape residue on it. If it looks like normal wear and tear, it is okay, but if in doubt Do Not Use It - find another
- Block the view of the keypad with one hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording your number when entering your PIN
- ATMs in tourist areas are popular with skimmers avoid them when possible
- Indoor ATMs are not popular with skimmers use these when available (it is harder for the criminals to install their equipment)
- Contact your issuing financial institution immediately if your card is not returned when the transaction is completed or you hit the cancel button (It is a good idea to have the number listed somewhere other than the back of the card.)
Review you Credit Report annually. You may order your free annual credit report by calling 1-877-322-8228 or visit AnnualCreditReport.com a site sponsored by the three major credit reporting companies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. (Check the IP address once there or by typing "https://www.annualcreditreport.com" into your browser address bar.) This is the only site that provides the free credit report so look out for impostor sites. You can get reports fro the credit reporting companies as well but they do charge. Their fee may be a small price to pay if you feel you need more than one credit report in a calendar year.
Published September 5, 2012