ATM Skimming
The suspected Romanian ATM skimmers arrested by agents NBI. Photo by Romeo Marantal of DYRC

CEBU CITY – Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 arrested three Romanian nationals suspected of having involvement in the series of automated teller machine (ATM) card skimming in Cebu that compromised at least 2,000 accounts.

The three suspects – Lonup Alesandrou, Razvan Aurelian, and Cosal Ion – were first invited by the NBI for questioning at around 1 pm Friday based on footage of the CCTV installed at the Land Bank of the Philippines branch in barangay Banilad.

The suspects were questioned because CCTV footage saw them visiting the Landbank ATM machines several times.

Special Investigator Florante Gaoiran said that they traced the whereabouts of the foreigners through the footage provided by the bank.

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“We traced their vehicle after it was captured by the bank’s camera,” he said.

The CCTV footage caught the vehicle the three suspects used while they were at the bank’s vicinity.

At 6pm, the NBI secured a search warrant and brought the three suspects back to their condominiums in Lahug, Cebu CIty, where the evidences were found.

The three suspects refused to give statement to the media following their arrest. A source from the NBI said the authorities are looking for more Romanians who are allegedly involved in the ATM hacking.

One of the arrested suspects is reportedly an IT expert who played a major role in the modus operandi.

News about the ATM skimming broke out this week when more than 50 government employees, including policemen, soldiers, and a retired judge, complained to the bank that they lost the money they kept in their ATM accounts.

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Landbank has blocked over 2,000 accounts to ensure protection and advised holders to visit the depository branch to rest their Personal Identification Numbers or PINs for regular cardholders, or request for a card replacement for Visa debit cardholders.

Cebu Governo Hilario Davide III has urged Landbank to also look into the possibility of an inside job in the series of ATM skimming. –