ATM fraud ring shut down

Police arrested eight people after a sweep through three counterfeit debit card labs last month, including one allegedly operating in a Don Mills and Eglinton area apartment building.

The June 17 arrests are the culmination of a six-week investigation by Ontario Provincial Police, RCMP and fraud units from Toronto, York and Peel Region.

The accused, which includes three Toronto residents, are facing more than 100 charges of fraud and forgery.

Police say it was a “start to finish” operation, as the group was allegedly manufacturing equipment that was placed on ATMs throughout the GTA to capture client data and personal identification numbers.

Information gathered was then allegedly downloaded on to computers and transferred to counterfeit debit cards at the two labs, one in the midtown apartment building, the other in an industrial complex near Langstaff and Weston Rds.

A third lab was discovered in a vehicle.

Seized from the labs was $120,000 in cash, and a variety of equipment including skimmers, card readers, embossers and 40 computers.

“They were very sophisticated and very adept at what they were doing,” Toronto police Staff Inspector Steve Harris said at a June 18 press conference.

The accused targeted frequently used ATMs, police say, where the skimming equipment would be placed for a short time and then removed.

Harris speculated the accused were likely using the counterfeit cards at ATMs to take cash from victims’ accounts, but also possibly distributing the fraudulent cards to other people.

The operation was one of a growing number of scams involving theft and card skimming. Police estimate about 159,000 cardholders in Canada lost over $100 million last year alone.

Arrested were Nikolay Jeliazov, 46; Allan Meshev, 21; Kandeepan Palarajah, 27, all of Toronto; Ronald Todorov, 25, and Constantina Bogris, 28, both of Vaughan; Raymond Todorov, 19, and Elena Metev, 39, both of Maple; and Dimitar Jeliazov, 27, of Richmond Hill.

Charges included varying combinations of possession of property obtained by crime, possession of credit card forgery device, conspiracy to commit fraud, exposing counterfeit mark, fraudulent use of data and failing to comply with recognizance.

About this article:

By: Karolyn Coorsh
Posted: Sep 8 2008 3:30 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto