Malaysian ATM skimmers nabbed

Police on Monday said they arrested five Malaysians and charged them with using ATM "skimmers" to rob cash machines in several provinces of more than 50 million baht.

The five were identified as Francis Xavier Arulappan, 35; Mageswaran Balakrishnan, 23; Kartik Sinnasamy, 24; Velaanraaj Vallaarasen, 22, and Gunalan Kumaresan, 25. They were Sunday in Hat Yai district of Songkhla after a police investigation lasting several weeks.

The arrest came after a joint operation by police from Crime Suppression Division, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB)'s financial crime prevention unit and an official of French Embassy. 

CSD acting commander Pol Maj Gen Noraboon Nanna alleged that on Sunday, the first three suspects withdrew 500,000 baht from an ATM owned by SCB at Odeon Shopping Center in Hat Yai while the others kept watch. Police later stopped the group outside a hotel, and a search found the stolen cash along with a total of 732 fake credit and debit cards, a skimmer and a laptop computer.

The suspects allegedly confessed that they entered Thailand on April 2 along with three other Malaysians, who are still at large, and began to intercept credit and debit card data of European expatiates and tourists using cards at various ATMs. Most of the victims are French nationals. 

The group used skimmed data to make their own fake credit cards and ATM cards to withdraw cash from many ATMs. Police and the bank estimated they got away with about 50 million baht in tourist places including Songkhla, Krabi, Trang and Petchburi provinces.

The gang supposedly sent withdrawn cash back to "their boss in Malaysia" each day. They received 10% of the stolen money as their payment.

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