Jail for Bulgarian who used cloned ATM cards

A Bulgarian man, who tried unsuccessfully to use cloned ATM cards to withdraw cash here, was jailed for a year yesterday .

Pavlov Nedyalko Momchilov, 48, had pleaded guilty on Jan 18 to eight counts of abetment by conspiracy to commit theft involving a total of $900.

Nine other similar charges, involving about $1,100 in all, were taken into consideration during sentencing.

In July last year, an unknown man recruited Momchilov in Bulgaria to commit the offences, after they agreed he would get to keep 20 per cent of the cash he successfully withdrew in Singapore.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Suhas Malhotra said: "The cloned ATM cards were given to the accused just before he left for the Bulgarian airport to travel to Singapore. The PIN numbers were written on the cards."

From the day he arrived here on Sept 4 till Sept 8, Momchilov attempted to withdraw cash from United Overseas Bank (UOB) ATMs at different places, including Far East Shopping Centre, Orchard Towers and Changi Airport Terminal 1. But he failed to withdraw between $100 and $300 on each attempt.

DPP Malhotra told District Judge Imran Hamid that Momchilov's repeated unsuccessful transactions raised red flags.

Closed-circuit television cameras also caught him committing the offences.

Momchilov had pleaded guilty to eight counts of abetment by conspiracy to commit theft.

On Sept 7, Mr Desmond Goh Khiaw Siang, a UOB vice-president, was alerted by the bank's unit card centre that several cloned cards had been recovered at the airport and Far East Shopping Centre.

He lodged a police report and officers arrested Momchilov two days later when he tried to leave Singapore.

For each count of abetment by conspiracy to commit theft, he could have been jailed for up to nine months and fined.

Shaffiq Alkhatib

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2017, with the headline 'Jail for Bulgarian who used cloned ATM cards'. Print Edition | Subscribe