KATHMANDU, Nov 28: Foreigners involved in ATM skimming fraud in Nepal have had criminal records in their respective countries, according to reports sent to the Nepal Police by Interpol.
Responding to the inquires made by the Nepal Police on the background of the foreigners arrested by the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), the respective Interpol offices have informed that those arrested were involved in various criminal activities.
The alarming rise in ATM skimming cases had prompted bank operators, Nepal Police and ATM card users to take immediate precautionary measures to avert possible risk.
“We have received adequate information from the respective countries that supports our investigation before we file cases in the court,” CIB Director DIG Nawaraj Silwal said.
CIB had sought criminal records of six foreigners from Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, soon after they were arrested for their active involvement in ATM skimming in an organized way.
According to Interpol Bucharest of Romania, Ghita Huzum, 52, Losif Moraru, 48, and Alexe Cristian Bughiurlan, 45, were involved in different criminal activities.
Interpol Bucharest informed that although Huzum was not in its criminal record, he was convicted for illegal drug trafficking in Spain in 2007 and was slapped a jail term of two years and nine months.
Similarly, Moraru too was not in their criminal database but was found to be convicted for crimes like forgery in Italy in 2012 and was penalized as well as jailed for 10 months.
Bughiurlan was found in the criminal database of Interpol Bucharest for crimes related to theft and was sentenced to three years and six months in prison in 1990.
Interpol Sofia of Bulgaria has informed that Dimo Atanasov Stefanov, 38, who was also arrested while ATM skimming in a similar fashion in Nepal, has not been convicted for any crime but police authorities in Varna had initiated investigation against him for theft, robbery and bodily harm.
Interpol Ankara of Turkey has also informed that the two arrested Muhareem Uzun, 52, and Selahattin Yabar, 32, were found to be involved in ATM skimming cases.
According to the CIB, Uzun's name was found in the criminal record of Interpol Ankara for violation of copyrights and is also the subject of an ongoing investigation carried out by their judicial authorities for offences related to credit card skimming, use of forged credit cards as well as being a member of an organized criminal group.
Interpol Ankara has informed that Yabar was in their criminal database for forgery of official documents, damage to property, illegally possessing bullets and firearms, sexual abuse and defamation. He is also facing an ongoing investigation against the use of forged credit cards among others. But both of them were not in the wanted list.
With the alarming rise in ATM skimming cases in Nepal, the law enforcement agencies have warned 3.5 million ATM cards users to change their pin numbers and urged them to take precautions to avoid being duped by such fraudsters.
ATM skimming involves stealing debit card numbers and pin numbers after attaching electronic devices with a spy camera in the ATM booths. The data is stolen through the insertion of an illegal card-reading device in the ATM. More than 12,000 pin numbers were reportedly stolen by the skimmers from East European countries.