Rs 7.5L, US$ 13,000 seized following tip-off from hotel staff in Karapakkam.
The police also seized Rs 7.5 lakh, 13,000 US dollars, laptops and mobile phones from the trio, identified as Lyubomir Maksimov (33), Nicholai Katev (30) and Boris Valkov (30). After preliminary inquiry, the police said that all three men reached Chennai on July 13 and checked into a hotel in Karapakkam on OMR. All three were staying in the same room. On Thursday, one of them sought help from the receptionist to open the locker in their room as he forgot the password. When an engineer helped them open the locker, he noticed bundles of Indian currency wrapped in transparent polythene bags. On suspicion, he informed the hotel administration and the staff searched the room on Friday when the trio had gone out. They found out that the gang had hidden the decoder and encoder devices in a cupboard inside the bathroom and alerted the Kannagi Nagar police station. As per inspector Veerakumar’s suggestion, the hotel staff left the devices in the same place and locked the room to avoid suspicion. When the trio returned to the hotel, the staff informed the police and they immediately rushed to the hotel and secured the trio on Friday evening.
Though they initially claimed that the devices do not belong to them and might have been hidden by those who previously stayed in the room, they were handed over to the bank fraud wing of Central Crime Branch of the city police.
Preliminary inquiry revealed that the gang reached the city with debit and credit credentials of foreigners to create fake cards here and withdraw cash in ATMs. They were remanded in judicial custody on Saturday. The CCB sleuths, who interrogated them, said that they would be taken into police custody again for further investigation.
The arrest comes two days after a skimmer device was seized from an ATM at Ayanavaram on Thursday and the case was transferred to the CCB for further probe. However, officials said that the arrested Bulgarians were not linked to the Ayanavaram skimmer seizure.
This is not the first-time foreign nationals have been apprehended for alleged ATM skimming rackets in the city. In May, the Semmanchery police arrested Peter Velikov and Lion Markova, also Bulgarian nationals, who visited the city to steal cash using cloned debit and credit cards. In November 2018, the Madipakkam police nabbed two Romanians – George Sorici (37) and Nicolai Ciumpileac (35) – for a similar crime and handed over to CCB.