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Document and Benefit Fraud

2 Bulgarian nationals sentenced for ATM skimming

BOSTON — Two Bulgarian men were sentenced Friday in Boston federal court in connection with a skimming scheme in which they compromised and used numerous ATMs throughout eastern Massachusetts and stole more than $135,000. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated both individuals for using counterfeit ATM cards, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Ivaylo Hristov, 29, of Toronto, Canada, was sentenced to 65 months in prison and Vladislav Vladev, 37, of  Sofiya, Bulgaria, was sentenced to 75 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Patti B. Saris.

Hristov and Vladev, both Bulgarian nationals, pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of using counterfeit ATM cards, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and possession of device-making equipment in connection with this scheme.

Judge Saris also ordered both men to pay restitution in the amount of $91,580 to Citizens Bank and $43,800 to Bank of America, which had reimbursed their victim card holders. Codefendant, Anton Venkov, 41, is awaiting sentencing on similar charges.

Between December 2009 and January 2010, the three men used counterfeit ATM cards at numerous locations throughout Massachusetts using information that had been skimmed from the magnetic strips of legitimate ATM cards by a device they attached to the ATM. They then sent the magnetic strip information to Bulgaria to be decrypted.

They also captured the corresponding PINs through the use of a concealed camera at the ATM. That information was encoded onto other blank cards, such as American Express and Dunkin Donut gift cards, which were then used as counterfeit ATM cards.

In addition to ICE HSI, this case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, with assistance from  Citizens Bank and Bank of America; Massachusetts State Police; and the Milton and Quincy Police Departments. The Norfolk County District Attorney's Office also participated in the investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra S. Bower.