‘Masters Games ath­letes’ jailed

The New Zealand Herald - - NEWS - Sam Hur­ley

Two Bul­gar­ian men who en­tered the coun­try dis­guised as Masters Games ath­letes have been jailed for a “so­phis­ti­cated” bank fraud scheme.

Nedel­cho Rosenov Kolev, 29, and Stoyan Dim­itrov Hris­tov, 31, ap­peared in the Auck­land District Court yes­ter­day for sen­tenc­ing on a charge of us­ing a doc­u­ment to ob­tain a pe­cu­niary ad­van­tage.

Judge Chris Sy­grove sen­tenced both men, with the aid of a Bul­gar­ian trans­la­tor, to eight months in jail.

They will be de­ported af­ter their pri­son term, the court heard.

Po­lice de­scribed the of­fend­ing as “so­phis­ti­cated, pre­med­i­tated and re­peated”.

When Kolev and Hris­tov ar­rived in New Zealand to­gether on April 20 they told im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers they were in the coun­try to par­tic­i­pate in the Masters Games.

But be­tween April 20 and May 1 they tried to scam Ki­wis 188 times at sev­eral ATMs around Auck­land by us­ing cloned bank cards.

How­ever, dur­ing that pe­riod the men were caught on sev­eral CCTV cam­eras us­ing 11 cloned cards.

To­gether they stole $15,060 from ASB ma­chines and made at­tempts to with­draw a fur­ther $33,570.

The Her­ald un­der­stands the men were ar­rested on May 3 near a Royal Oak su­per­mar­ket.

When they were ap­pre­hended po­lice seized $15,000 in cash, the court heard.

The Bul­gar­i­ans’ lawyer, Dr Richard Keam, said his clients were “a cou­ple of very fool­ish young men caught up in some­thing” and did not at­tempt to de­fend their charges.

Judge Sy­grove or­dered that $9191 of the stolen money be re­paid to ASB, while the re­main­ing bal­ance was to be for­feited to the Crown.

The Her­ald has in­de­pen­dently ex­am­ined the Bul­gar­ian Masters Games team list, and nei­ther Kolev or Hris­tov are named as of­fi­cial ath­letes, coaches, or sup­port staff.

ATM skim­ming is one of the fi­nan­cial in­dus­try’s fastest­grow­ing elec­tronic crimes.

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