West Hollywood News
Two Men Arrested For ATM Skimming
By Alex Nochez
Dec 24, 2013 - 9:03:58 PM

WEST HOLLYWOOD — Two men have were arrested on December 20 for allegedly using ATM skimmers throughout the San Fernando Valley.
An ATM skimmer.


Georgi Nikolov, 32, of North Hollywood, and Dimitar Dimitrov, 36, of Santa Monica, were arrested following an investigation that began in September 2012 after law enforcement officials were notified of a possible ATM skimming taking place at banks in Sherman Oaks and Encino, according to a release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.


The Southern California High Tech Task Force (SCHTTF), a law enforcement group comprised of local and federal officers including the United States Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, were eventually led by their investigation to Nikolov and Dimitrov, who were arrested after being stopped by undercover officers on the Ventura Boulevard on-ramp to the 405 in Encino. Search warrants were then issued for the suspects' home, where evidence of ATM skimming was found.


Both men were taken into custody and booked at the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station. Nikolov and Dimitrov are being held for $70,000 bail for felony counts of identity fraud, but they both also have an immigration hold placed on them. They are expected back in court on February 18, 2014.


ATM skimming is “a growing criminal activity,” according to the FBI. Usually, the skimming device is built from plaster or plastic and placed over the ATM's normal card reader. The skimmer then reads the information stored on someone's bank card and either stores it locally or transmits it wirelessly to a criminal nearby. In addition, the scam also uses a hidden camera placed on or near the ATM that records the PIN number being typed into the keypad. The FBI notes that keypad overlays, which are placed over the regular keypads and can also record the strokes of an inputted PIN number, may also be used.


People are advised to keep a lookout for such scams. A quick inspection of the ATM can alert people to the more obvious skimmers. The ATM inside an establishment are recommended for use, as potential criminals have a harder time placing skimmers on these, though consumers may want to stay away from ATMs placed in tourist areas. If the card is not returned by the ATM after hitting the cancel button, consumers are urged to contact the bank and their own financial institution.

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