Toronto

Toronto police charge 7 in ATM skimming fraud

Toronto police say they have laid 357 charges against seven people accused of skimming ATM and credit card data, which was used fraudulently in several countries.

Hundreds of charges laid in alleged ATM, credit card fraud

Toronto police say they have laid 357 charges against seven people accused of skimming ATM and credit card data, which was used fraudulently in several countries.

Private information of at least 1,500 cardholders was compromised by the international ring, police told a news conference Tuesday.

While individual cardholders did not lose money, the loss to Canadian financial instituions was more than $360,000, Det. Ian Nichol said. 

"Those are known losses," Nichol said. "The actual losses are actually much greater than that." 

Police allege that Canadian credit card data, obtained with ATM tamper devices in southern Ontario, was used fraudulently in Bulgaria, the U.S., Chile, South Africa, the Dominican Republic and Mexico, which is why police dubbed the investigation Project Holiday.

In December, Toronto police executed two search warrants at Toronto homes — one downtown and one in Scarborough —and allegedly uncovered a facility that manufactured and distributed the tamper devices. Police allege the devices have been used in Ontario, the U.S., Australia and Indonesia.

U.S. Secret Service involved in investigation

The police service's Financial Crimes unit worked with U.S. Secret Service and the Canada Border Services Agency to gather evidence in the case.

Seven men from the Greater Toronto Area, ranging in age from 26 to 34, have been charged collectively with 357 charges. The charges include:

  • 33 counts of possessing a credit-card forgery device.
  • 14 counts of fraudulent possession of credit-card data.
  • two counts of making or repairing a credit-card forgery device.

Four of the seven have also been charged with participating in a criminal organization.

The accused are scheduled to appear a Toronto court room on Wednesday.

An arrest has also been issued for one man, Dimo Bakalov, 28, of Toronto, and police are seeking 12 persons of interest. Their images are available on the Toronto Police Service website.   

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story reported the alleged crime ring affected at least 15,000 credit-card holders. In fact, it allegedly affected at least 1,500 credit-card holders.
    Feb 28, 2012 11:36 AM ET

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