Foreigners charged over ATM card forgery in Patong

PATONG: Two European men arrested by Kathu Police last Sunday night for scanning information allegedly to be used in committing bank card forgery remain in jail without bail, the Gazette has learned.

Maj Narong Laksanavimol said that the two men arrested, whom he named as German national Hota Bogdan Nicolae and Romanian Andrei Gugioman, both 25, are part of a larger crime ring.

The two men have been charged with conspiracy to produce counterfeit bank cards, which Maj Narong said were intended to be used to steal money from unsuspecting foreign tourists.

The pair were arrested after midnight on February 24 near a Thai Military Bank ATM and currency exchange booth on Rat-U-Thit 200 Pi Rd, near the junction with Sainamyen Rd.

Maj Narong said that the pair, who had been under surveillance since about 8 pm, waited until after the currency-exchange booth closed at 10 pm before beginning their scanning operation from inside a Toyota Camry at around midnight.

After the men were arrested, police seized what was described as a “scanning kit” made by the two men, along with two notebook computers, a Bangkok-registered Toyota Camry, computer cables and adapters, a USB drive and other equipment.

The pair were taken back to their hotel room at the Baan Suay Resort on Patak Rd in Karon, where more ATM slips and equipment used in making forged bank cards was found, Maj Narong said.

The pair were part of a gang that had different “team members” for different tasks, such as scanning information, creating duplicate cards and using them to withdraw cash, he said.

The gang members, of which there were probably about 10, entered the country on visa exemptions. They could stay in Thailand for only short periods, during which they traveled around the country to popular tourist destinations, he added.

The duplicate cards were sold for about 40,000 baht each and used to withdraw up to 300,000 baht each, Maj Narong explained.

ATM withdrawals of only about 3,000 to 5,000 baht a day were made to avoid detection by the banks. Most of their victims are tourists, he added.

It is possible some Thai people were also involved, Maj Narong said.

Both men confessed to owning the machine, but denied having used it, he said.

Phuket News

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