Four people believed part of a large ATM card skimming scam have pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing more than $380,000 from the bank accounts of at least 4,700 people, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Thursday.
Stoyno Filtshev, Plamen Atanasov, Nedyalko Palazov and W.B. Wohrman installed illegal skimming devices at Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo ATMs in the metro Atlanta area, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said.
When a customer used the ATM with the skimming device installed, the device would electronically record the customer’s debit card number, investigators said. A small camera in the device would video record the ATM keyboard as the customer entered his or her personal identification number.
“Victims in this case were devastated to learn that merely by using an ATM, they had unwittingly handed over their debit card information to criminals who in turn used the information to drain their bank accounts,” Yates said in an emailed statement. “The victims continue to suffer, from having to worry about what else may be done with their personal information to spending valuable time trying to clear their good names and credit.”
The suspects downloaded the information from the skimming devices, then re-encoded gift cards with stolen account information, Yates’ office said. Those cards were then used at ATMs to withdraw money from the victims’ bank accounts.
Filtshev, 53, of Atlanta, and Atanasov, 30, of Sandy Springs, were arrested in Kennesaw in June 2012. At the time of their arrests, the two had 279 re-encoded cards, and each re-encoded card had the customer’s ATM PIN written on the front, according to federal investigators.
On September 27, 2012, Wohrman, 36, of Tennessee, was arrested by Gwinnett County police on a federal arrest warrant for violating the terms of his federal supervised release, Yates said. A skimming device and bank cards were found in Wohrman’s vehicle at the time of his arrest.
Then, in January 2013, Palazov retrieved a package containing illegal skimming devices at a UPS facility. He fled the country, but was arrested in Germany after he boarded a plane in Mexico headed for Bulgaria, Yates said. Palazov was extradited from Germany and is now in custody in Clayton County.
On Dec. 18, Wohrman pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. Filtshev and Atanasov pleaded guilty Dec. 27 to one count each of conspiracy, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. Palazov pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of conspiracy, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Sentencing for all four defendants is scheduled for March 26 at 2 p.m.