The Judiciary Police (PJ) caught two Ukrainians on Monday on suspicion of stealing bank card information from local ATMs, although no card readers or micro-cameras were installed in the machines.
Instead, the duo inserted a device containing malicious software (malware) into the ATMs to record data from unsuspecting customers whenever the machines were used.
A PJ spokesman Wednesday named the two male suspects as a 28-year-old surnamed Iakushev and a 52-year-old surnamed Dugan.
PJ spokesman Suen Kam Fai told a special press conference that a local bank told the Judiciary Police in March that seven of its ATMs in Macau had suspiciously ceased working.
Around the same period of time, 30 exchange students along with 20 locals reported that their bank card information had been stolen and someone had withdrawn money from their accounts. In addition, 11 credit card holders from Hong Kong also came forward to report that their card data had been stolen.
PJ investigations showed that Dugan and Iakushev were behind the data thefts.
Suen said the two suspects were hired in Ukraine by a criminal organisation and evidence showed that they had been using the scam since August last year, in which they inserted a device equipped with the malware into the ATMs, after which they inserted a card with a microchip to extract the data collected by the malware.
They transferred the data to their accomplices in Ukraine who then created bogus cards and withdrew money in Thailand and Russia. Suen said that after re-entering Macau recently, the duo were separately picked up by police on Monday in two hostels, where they seized a laptop, card readers and cash.
The PJ spokesman added investigators believe that information from 63 cards had been stolen, racking up losses up to HK$490,000. He described the crime as a high-tech crime, adding that officers were looking for more victims.
The two suspects have been sent to the Public Prosecution Office (MP) to face a raft of possible charges including being members of a criminal organisation and data fraud.(macaunews/macaupost)