Bulgarian Man Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison for Using ATM Skimmers

Friday, August 24, 2012
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U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Stoycho Ivanov Lazarov, age 40, a Bulgarian citizen residing in Millersville, Maryland, to 48 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.  Judge Blake also entered an order for Lazarov to pay restitution of $185,512.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Barbara Golden of the United States Secret Service – Baltimore Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General, Philadelphia  Field Division.

According to Lazarov’s guilty plea, he entered the United States illegally sometime before September 2000, and obtained a Social Security card using a fraudulent immigration document.  From at least September 2009 through November 2010, Lazarov participated in an ATM skimming operation throughout Maryland.

Lazarov and other participants in the scheme illegally obtained debit and credit card account numbers and personal identification numbers (PINs) using small skimming devices and miniature cameras.  Lazarov and others placed the ATM skimmers over the slot where customers inserted their debit or credit cards and captured the account information from each card that passed through the skimmer.  The conspirators used the miniature camera to capture the PIN numbers as the customers entered them on the keypad.  Lazarov and others then encoded the magnetic strips of plastic cards, such as gift cards, with the compromised account numbers and information which they used, along with the corresponding PIN numbers, to make unauthorized cash withdrawals directly from the victims’ bank accounts.

For example, on May 29 and 30, 2010, Lazarov installed an ATM skimmer on bank ATMs in Westminster and Finksburg, Maryland, respectively, which were removed a few hours later by one of Lazarov’s associates after capturing the account information of multiple victim customers.  Lazarov and others used the debit card numbers and PINs which had been skimmed on May 29 and 30, 2010, to illegally withdrew at least $30,657 from 28 victims’ accounts. 

 In September and October, 2010, Lazarov and his associates also placed ATM skimmers on bank ATMs in Annapolis and Ellicott City, Maryland, and subsequently used the stolen account information and PINs to illegally withdraw at least $78,860 from 71 Annapolis victims’ accounts, and $75,994.50 from 68 Ellicott City victims’ account.

Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.

 United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the U.S. Secret Service and Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Rosenstein praised Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristi N. O’Malley and Tamera Fine, who prosecuted the case.