Niagara Gazette

Local News

July 17, 2014

Man caught at border in skimming case takes plea

Niagara Gazette — A man caught at a local bridge with gift cards altered with credit card numbers imbedded in them took a plea offer in the case.

U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. said Petar Petrov, 42, a citizen of Bulgaria who resides Mississauga, Ont., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio, to conspiracy to possess and use counterfeit access devices with intent to defraud. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Rogowski, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant was arrested on Sept. 2, 2013, as he entered the U.S. from Canada at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge. A Customs officer found 10 counterfeit access devices in Petrov’s car. The devices were gift cards which had been altered by having legitimate credit card numbers imbedded in the magnetic strips on the back of the cards. Agents determined that all 10 cards were counterfeit. The defendant and a co-conspirator placed “skimming devices” on ATMs in Canada to obtain account information.

The scheme also involved the use of a surreptitiously placed camera to record the personal identification numbers (PINS) used by customers to transact business on the ATM’s. The account information was then placed on the magnetic strips of various gift cards, creating counterfeit access devices. Petrov also used several counterfeit access devices in the Buffalo area between July and September 2013 to withdraw money from various bank accounts in Canadian Banks. The Royal Bank of Canada and the Imperial Bank of Canada suffered losses totaling over $80,000. 

“The facts of this case — including the defendant placing a camera near an ATM to record a victim’s identification information — reminds us of the lengths criminals go to steal,” said Hochul. “It also should serve as a reminder to the public to use caution anytime an account or credit card is utilized. Helpful information to protect one’s identity and finances can be found at www.stopfraud.gov.” 

Co-conspirator Evgeniy Bandarmiliev is also charged with conspiracy to possess and use counterfeit access devices with intent to defraud.

The plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of James C. Spero, Special Agent in Charge.

The sentencing will be scheduled by Chief United States District Court Judge William M. Skretny.

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