Bulgarian Indicted for ATM Skimming Fraud

September 27, 2010

Recently, BrokeAndBroker reported about the theft of confidential financial information by a Lithuanian based criminal enterprise in "Caught in the Spider's Web" at http://www.brokeandbroker.com/index.php?a=blog&id=562.  Now, we have a similar tale alleging that a Bulgarian citizen stole bank account information.


ATM cards used by customers to access their accounts are encoded with customer account information, in addition to a Personal Identification Number ("PIN"), which the customer enters into the ATM by means of a keypad.

"Skimming" is an illegal activity that involves the installation of a device, usually undetectable by ATM users, that secretly records the user's bank account data when the user inserts an ATM card into the ATM machine.

The Hidden Camera Ploy: Skimming also typically involves the use of a hidden camera, also installed on or near an ATM, to record customers' entry of their PINs into the ATM's keypad. Skimming devices are typically installed on ATMs for short periods of time -typically just a few hours -- before they are removed by the individuals involved in the skimming activity. Once removed, the account information that was collected by the devices is retrieved and encoded onto blank ATM cards, in effect creating a duplicate of the cards used by the bank customers. With the stolen PINs obtained by the hidden cameras, individuals engaged in skimming use the duplicate cards at ATMs to fraudulently withdraw money from bank customers' accounts.

From Bulgaria With Love

A federal Indictment alleges that from at least December 2007 through June 2009, 19-year old Radostin Paralingov of Plovdiv, Bulgaria and Ulian Paralingov participated in a scheme to install skimming devices on ATMs in the New York City area, and then used the stolen account information to fraudulently withdraw over $1 million from the victims' accounts. Radostin Paralingov primarily installed skimming devices on ATMs at branches of Citibank, N.A., and JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.

Radostin Paralingov is charged in the Indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, one count of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of

  • 30 years in prison each for the conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud charges,
  • 7 1/2 years in prison for the conspiracy to commit access device fraud charge, and
  • 2-year consecutive mandatory sentence for the aggravated identity theft charge.

On September 20, 2010, Radostin Paralingov was arrested at McFarren International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, after arriving on a flight from London.

Ulian Paralingov,who is also charged in the indictment, has not yet been arrested.

NOTE: The charges and allegations contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.