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Bulgarians Arrested Over Atm Scam

PINI BOTHOKO
Three Bulgarians have been arrested for high profile electronic card information theft linked to ‘ATMs and bank accounts scam’.

The trio, two men and a woman aged between 26 and 44 years, were arrested at Airport Junction Mall on March 19. Despite banks having 24- hour toll free numbers to assist customers with card cancellation and any fraud related issues, thieves continue to find ways of withdrawing people’s money from their bank accounts.

Late last year, the police and some local banks launched investigations after reports by a number of customers that money was mysteriously withdrawn from their accounts locally and through international fake bank accounts.

When the news broke, the marketing and communications director of FNBB, Obonye Malope, confirmed that there had been cases of international fraud affecting some of their customers. Later on, the police also issued a warning against some ATMs in Gaborone suspected to have been targeted by scammers.

It was believed that customers’ money was withdrawn through fake international bank accounts from a far off countries such as Indonesia.

The Botswana Police Service public relations officer, Dipheko Motube, confirmed the trio’s arrest to The Monitor.

“Ever since the reports of money scam in people’s accounts and in ATMs, the police have been investigating the matter and made a breakthrough last Monday evening when they arrested three suspects who are all Bulgarian nationals at Airport Junction Mall in Gaborone,” Motube said.

He stated that the suspects were arrested in possession of some devices suspected to be used to read information from ATM cards, for purposes of cloning the cards, and withdrawing money from ATMs.

“Our investigations have established that those devices are being used to get detailed information of the card, including its pin number something that led to the trio’s arrest,” he said.

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He stated that as access to banking services through digital channels continues to grow, it threatens online safety for most banking customers.

“We suspect that those devices were the ones used in the past at different ATM machines in Gaborone where money scam reports were high. A number of money scam cases have been reported since last year across most of local banks and we have been looking for the suspects. There were instances where people’s money was withdrawn by international banks, hence the suspicion that the people behind the scam were foreigners. We suspect that if we can follow those devices they can link us to some of international bank accounts that have been withdrawing people’s money,” Motube said.

He stated that the trio have been charged with an offence of unlawful possession of computer and devices adapted for the purpose of committing an offence.

He called on people to stand close to the ATM and cover the keypad when keying in their pin, check the ATM for any foreign or unusual objects before using it.

Motube said with the available resources the police are doing their best to fight crime, but pleaded with people to be vigilant when withdrawing cash, and check any unusual objects.

“Usually, people get into the machine whilst in a rush. I plead with customers to be vigilant when using ATM machines. We are concerned with the high cases of money scam especially in Gaborone.

Before using the ATMs, people should make sure that they check if the machine had not been tempered with as well as checking any foreign devices that might be connected to it,” Motube said.



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