TWO Bulgarians suspected of being international automated teller machine (ATM) schemers have been jailed for five years by the Kabwe Magistrate’s Court after they pleaded guilty to being in possession of implements of forgery.
Ivanov Andrey Petrov, 41, and his co-accused Velidolsk Kiril Metodiew, 36, were spotted around 03:00 hours on December 17 at Kabwe Barclays Bank inserting a device in the ATM and police later apprehended them as they were attempting to flee Kabwe.
Yesterday they appeared before Kabwe resident magistrate John Mbuzi facing one count of making or having in possession paper or implements or devices for forgery, contrary to Section 351 (c) of the Penal Code Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia.
The court heard that the two convicts on December 17 jointly and whilst acting together knowingly and without authority had in possession three high-tech pinhole camera bars, three magnetic card recorders, nine non-branded bank magnetic strip cards, an Acer laptop serial No. SNID 3171272234,6, and data download cables.
They also had a heavy snap blade cutter, and six rolls of double-sided mounting tape devices, all suspected to be implements for forgery.
Entering his plea, Petrov said: “Yes, I understand the charge…I admit that I was found with these implements.”
Metodiev also pleaded guilty and, like Petrov, he said at the time the police apprehended them, the implements were not with them but at Tuskers Hotel.
The convicts said they were sent to insert one of the implements in the Barclays Bank and Finance ATMs and they did not know how the gadgets worked.
Contradicting themselves, they said some of the implements were used to tap data from the ATMs.
“We were told to put it in the ATM and we were waiting for someone to come and give us K2,000,” Petrov told the court through an interpreter.
Mr Mbuzi later told them that the court was entering pleas of guilty as they had readily admitted the charges.
And delivering his judgment, Mr Mbuzi said while he noted that the two were entitled to leniency as first offenders and readily pleaded guilty, they committed a serious offence.
“However, the offence you are charged with is a very serious offence and it carries a sentence of seven years. In a country where cybercrimes boggle the mind of ordinary citizens, if not stopped, many people will be losing their hard-earned money,” Mr Mbuzi said.
He said the sentencing of the two will serve as a lesson to other ATM card schemers.
Mr Mbuzi also noted that although the two pleaded guilty and claimed that they did not know the use of the implements, it was, however, clear that they knew what they were doing because they were seen at the Barclays ATM around 03:00 hours.
And reading the facts, Central Division deputy division prosecution officer Lennox Kasungu said on December 17, police at Central Police Station received a tip that two people were at the Barclays ATM inserting devices in the machine around 03:00 hours.
Mr Kasungu said when the two realised that they could have been seen, they fled using a grey vehicle registration number ALP 5524 but around 04:30 hours, the police apprehended them near the Zambia National Service camp.
They were arrested and jointly charged with the offence, adding that under warn-and-caution, they both admitted the charge.
In mitigation through their lawyer, Frances Nanguzgamba, they pleaded for leniency as they were remorseful for their actions.
Captain Nanguzgamba said the duo’s relatives in Bulgaria are not aware that they have been arrested and convicted in Zambia.
Zambia Daily Mail