International link of ATM fraud becomes clear in Iloilo case

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ILOILO CITY—Signs are becoming clearer that an international syndicate is behind cases of theft of confidential information from automated teller machine cards that have siphoned off hundreds of millions of pesos from unsuspecting ATM card users.

Police are seeing the connection between the international crime operation and local cases of ATM fraud after the arrest of three Malaysians last Saturday at a mall here.

Chief Insp. Efren Lozada, head of the Mandurriao police station, said mall guards saw the Malaysians acting suspiciously near ATM machines at the mall a day before their arrest.

The Malaysians have been identified as Ching Seng Jun, 25, Chang Yong Siang, 32, and Tan Boon Fooi, 24.

Police recovered from them skimming devices, P10,990 in peso and different currencies, three ATM cards and five mobile phones.

Skimming involves the installation of devices, including ATM card readers and surveillance cameras, on ATM machines.

The devices secretly gather card information and record the personal identification number (PIN) of ATM card owners. The stolen information is transferred to another ATM card enabling access to the hacked bank account.

“It is most likely that they have local links,” said Supt. Kim Legarda, deputy chief for operations of the Iloilo City police.

The suspects entered the Philippines on April 14, according to immigration records.

Police have filed a complaint against the suspects for violating Republic Act No. 8484 (Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998) at the Iloilo City prosecutor’s office.

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