Romanians in ATM scam released

THE two Romanians arrested after they were caught using fraudulent cards in withdrawing money from automated teller machines (ATM) in Mandaue City were recently released from prison.

This was after Petru Ion Uverges, 43, and Stefania Mihaela Osman, 36, posted bail of P100,000.

Senior Supt. Marlon Tayaba, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7, said they released Uverges and Osman last Friday afternoon and turned them over to the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

Whether or not Uverges and Osman will be permitted to fly back to their country, Tayaba said it is up to the immigration bureau to decide.

“Normally, lahat ng inaaresto nating (when we arrest a) foreigner, the report is furnished to the BI,” Tayaba said.

He said suspected cohorts of the two are currently being monitored in Cebu.

Uverges and Osman were the second and third Romanians arrested for the same offense in Cebu within six weeks.

They are apparently members of an international syndicate whose aim is to hack bank accounts of British nationals and withdraw the money through ATMs in the Philippines, Tayaba said.

Arrested

The CIDG 7, with the aid of Mandaue City Police Office Intelligence Branch, caught the two withdrawing from a machine in Barangay Tipolo at 7 p.m. last Oct. 31.

They recovered P52,000 cash, 67 fraudulent British Exports cards, eight loyalty reward cards of Cebu-based stores and bank withdrawal receipts from the suspects.

Some bank managers reportedly told Tayaba that syndicates withdraw the money in the Philippines because the security details of its local ATM cards are not updated yet.

While cards from other countries are embedded with personalized microchips, debit cards in the country still depend on a black horizontal strip on the back, which Tayaba said is easy to manipulate.

Hacker

Last Sept. 20, Romanian economist Gheorghe Adelin Stretcu was arrested by the Cebu City Intelligence Branch (CIB) when a mall security guard saw him withdrawing money from one machine, then another.

The guard found this dubious, so he called the police.

Stretcu alleged that his hacker colleague is named Skinhead of Frankfurt, a German national operating somewhere in Europe.

Tayaba said that although the syndicated group’s alleged victims are mostly Europeans, there is no assurance they haven’t victimized a Filipino yet.

Uveges and Osman will face complaints for violating Republic Act 8484, or the Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998, before the Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor.

The law prohibits “the use of a falsified document, false information, fictitious identities and addresses, or any form of false pretense or misrepresentation” in the application of an access device like banking cards.
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