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International ATM scheme ends in arrest

Automatic teller machine (ATM) in Sweden
Andreas_Wikimedia_Public Domain

Following a lengthy international investigation FBI agents arrested 13 defendants in Chicago and surrounding suburbs and two in Sofia, Bulgaria yesterday on charges of federal fraud and/or related charges for their alleged scheme involving the use of ATM and debit card numbers and the personal identification numbers associated with them, which were fraudulently obtained in Europe, to withdraw hundreds of thousands of dollars from victims’ accounts using automated teller machines at various locations in the Chicago area and money laundering.

Robert J. Holley, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced the 29-count indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury on March 12 and was unsealed following the arrests and made public today.

Two defendants, Radoslav Pavlov, 36, of Sofia, Bulgaria, also known as “Radi,” charged with wire fraud, and Mihail Petrov, 41, of Sofia, charged with wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy and money laundering, were arrested in Sofia. The United States intends to seek their extradition to face the charges in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

According to the indictment, Pavlov, Petrov, Evitmov, Alexander Savov, 47, of Carol Stream, Illinois, who were arrested here, were located outside the United States and fraudulently obtained ATM and debit card numbers and PINs from locations in Europe and elsewhere without the actual account holders’ knowledge. They would direct others to then transferred the fraudulently obtained information, often through Skype or e-mail, to Gheorgui Martov, also known as “Mitsubishi” and “Mitsu,” 39, of Schiller Park, Illinois, who allegedly directed the scheme in the Chicago area. Martov gave the information to numerous co-defendants to make the fraudulent withdrawals from area ATMs, the charges allege, and the defendants divided the money they obtained. Martov was charged with 22 counts of wire fraud and four counts of money laundering in addition to the money laundering conspiracy and obstruction counts.

The 29-count indictment also stated that Martov and his wife, Temenuga Koleva, aka “Nushka,” 37, of Schiller Park, were each charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly destroying computer files and Internet browsing history during the course of the FBI’s investigation. Koleva was also charged with being an accessory after the fact to wire fraud.

Martov, Petrov, and Emil Gospodinov, 44, of Chicago; who owned and operated BG Center Rodina, located 4828 N. Cumberland Ave. in Norridge, Illinois, a business that transmitted funds via MoneyGram, among other things. Along with Martov, Emil Gospodinov was charged with money laundering conspiracy for allegedly transmitting the fraudulently obtained funds from the United States to Bulgaria and elsewhere. After receiving funds from Martov, Gospodinov transmitted the funds to Martov’s alleged co-schemers outside the United States using nominee senders and receivers on the transactions to disguise the true identities of those sending and receiving the funds.

The indictment alleges that Martov gave the information he obtain to the following defendants to withdraw money from area ATMs: Ivan Kotselov, 32, of Schiller Park; Georgi Vangelov, aka “Zhoro,” 26, of Schiller Park; Svetoslav Nedelchev, aka “Svetlyo,” 28, of Chicago; Daniel Yordanov, aka “Dani,” 29; Deyan Slavchev, aka “Dido,” 28, of Schiller Park; Karl Popovski, aka “Kiro Papata,” 23, of Chicago; Nikolay Todorov, aka “Niketsa,” 35, of Schiller Park; Mladen Gueorguiev, 25, of Chicago; Nedislav Gabov, 33, of Chicago; and Dimo Deshkov, 28, of Chicago.