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3 foreigners arrested for ATM skimming in Pampanga

The suspects – identified as a Nicaraguan, Italian, and Romanian – allegedly stole P339,300 from various ATMs in the province

SUSPECTS. The 3 foreigners accused of ATM skimming cover their faces with their shirts as they are brought to the conference room in Camp Olivas. Photo by Jun A. Malig/Rappler

PAMPANGA, Philippines – Three foreigners were arrested late Monday night, July 24, for allegedly stealing money from automated teller machines (ATMs) in this province.

Chief Superintendent Aaron Aquino, Central Luzon police director, identified the suspects as Radu Minodor Sandor, 43, a Nicaraguan; Marcu Bogdan, 26, an Italian; and Petro Ioan Uveges, 44, a Romanian.

Aquino said Uveges also has a Hungarian passport bearing the name Balazs Varga. It was learned that he is married to a Filipino woman and they have two children.

According to Aquino, roving security personnel of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Family Savings Bank first saw the 3 foreigners using the ATM of the branch along MacArthur Highway in Barangay San Agustin around 10:30 pm on Monday.

The bank security personnel decided to seek police assistance after they observed that the foreigners were taking longer than usual to withdraw cash.

Senior Superintendent Joel Consulta, Pampanga police provincial director, said the suspects hurriedly left the ATM and boarded their vehicle when the cops arrived. Police mobile patrol cars, however, were able to block their way and the foreigners were arrested.

Cops were also able to seize P339,300 in cash and 152 pieces of cloned ATM cards from the 3 men.

CONFISCATED. Central Luzon police director Chief Superintendent Aaron Aquino (seated) shows to media the seized cash and cloned ATM cards. Behind him are the 3 arrested foreigners. Also in photo is Pampanga police director Senior Superintendent Joel Consulta (right). Photo by Jun A. Malig/Rappler

It was learned that the foreigners came from Cebu City and traveled by car to Central Luzon via a roll-on, roll-off (RORO) sea vessel.

Aquino said the suspects frequented areas with many other foreign tourists where they would not be easily noticed, like in Angeles City, Pampanga and in Olongapo City, Zambales. (READ: BDO chief likens fight vs ATM skimming to running on treadmill)

"They do the skimming or planting of cloning devices and hidden cameras in ATMs frequently used by foreigners and Filipinos. Then they harvest or withdraw money," he said.

Aquino added that the foreigners were able to "harvest" the P339,300 in less than two hours from several ATMs in Pampanga on the day they were arrested.

The 3 men have been charged with violation of Republic Act (RA) 8484 or the Access Devices Regulation Act as well as RA 8792 or the Electronic Commerce Act. (READ: House bill wants ATM skimmers jailed for life, fined up to P5 million)

Central Luzon police will also coordinate with the Bureau of Immigration since the suspects are foreigners. – Rappler.com