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Florin Gavrila and wife Alexandra: the four confessed to stealing from thousands

Thousands in Europe Faced Theft by Phuket ATM 'Skim Scam' Gang

Monday, March 14, 2011
FOUR tourists from Romania have been accused of perpetrating an ATM credit card scam that stretched from London to Latvia and on to Thailand, delivering them 100 million baht and involving the theft of about 7000 credit card details.

The four appeared today at Phuket's Tourist Police HQ. One, Bogdan Constantin Ene, 23, demonstrated how the group had used a card reader and a hard-drive to buy expensive goods, gold and watches, and to send a treasure trove of items back to Romania.

And in reserve, they held the details in a hard drive of thousands of others whose details had been ripped off in Europe.

It was Florin Eugen Gavrila, 33, who first become the focus of attention on bank security cameras by using so many ATMs around Phuket and Thailand, often wearing the same shirt and cap.

He was arrested in Phuket's Thalang district yesterday and soon after police swooped on the Azzurro Village Patong, on Phuket's popular western holiday coast. His wife Alexandra, 26, was arrested along with Claudiu Constantin Vilvoi, 36, and Bogdan Constantin Ene, 23.

It was Ene who demonstrated the ease with which the four managed to use blank credit cards and a card reader, embedded with personal numbers and information, to make withdrawals whenever they wished, having skimmed thousands of cards in their scam.

There were 211 blank white cards with magnetic strips on display today at the Tourist Police HQ in Phuket City during a presentation to the Phuket media, who turned out in force.

More alarmingly, said Pongsit Chaichut Pornsuk, executive vice president of Siam Commercial Bank, the gang had a stockpile of details from 5000 people in Britain and another 2000 from Latvia that they could use as they pleased.

The gang had access to all the personal information provided by those people in Europe when they signed up for their credit cards, Khun Pongsit told Phuketwan.

The bank and the Transnational Crime Suppression Centre in Bangkok played a central role in closing the net of the Romanians after another two Romanians were arrested in Bangkok on January 6. On March 12, two Turks were arrested.

And the Phuket arrests followed yesterday.

Khun Pongsit said that although the exposure of people holding British credit cards appeared to be greatest, it was possible that many of them did not know their details had been stolen. Authorities would only react once the stolen information was used, he said.

Now that the four had been arrested, British authorities had the chance to catch up and learn more about how the thefts took place on such a large scale, he said.

Seven expensive gold and silver men's watches were on the table at Phuket Tourist Police HQ today, but officers said that the gang is believed to have ripped off at least 100 million baht in gold and goods with their skim scam.

They have been on Phuket for nine days, having visited several other popular destinations around Thailand, including Pattaya, Samui and Hua Hin.

The gang was able to determine which people with cards were least likely to notice missing cash, and targetted the elderly wealthy, the gathering heard today.

Comments

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Excellent report, great job done by the police.

Posted by Lee on March 15, 2011 06:58

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Lock them up and throw away the key.

Posted by Sandy Shores on March 15, 2011 15:23

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what happened with them ? are they in prison ? i want to know more about them .. a phone number to that police section to call them ?

Posted by radu on July 2, 2011 14:09

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A very good question Radu. There is a saying ''Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery''. For Thailand you can probably say ''Yesterday is mystery, tomorrow will be history''. (Election day).

Posted by Pete on July 2, 2011 14:33

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Amazing that they stole 100 million baht but still look like illiterate badly-dressed gypsies from some Transylvanian village. Money can't buy you class.

Posted by Jerry Pacino on July 2, 2011 15:49


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