Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bulgarian Crime Ring Busted in Las Vegas

Via Las Vegas Journal Review -

Federal authorities allege that two cells of Bulgarian organized criminals defrauded Las Vegas and Phoenix area car dealers out of $1.6 million and stole at least $700,000 from bank ATMs around the valley.

In all, 11 people were charged in three separate indictments unsealed last week in federal court after a two-year FBI investigation that involved the use of court-approved wiretaps. The FBI declined to comment Monday as agents continued to search for some of the defendants.

At a hearing Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen Bliss said the FBI had obtained information from authorities in Bulgaria that one of the alleged ringleaders, 58-year-old Dimitar Dimitrov, was an associate of organized crime figures in that country.

Dimitrov, a U.S. citizen who lives in Las Vegas, was charged in all three indictments, including one that accuses him and his wife, Viarka Dimitrova, of unlawfully obtaining a 9 mm pistol during the criminal investigation.


Another indictment charges Dimitrov and five other men with conspiracy, wire fraud and transportation of stolen property in a scheme to unlawfully acquire vehicles from car dealers and ship them coast to coast and to Eastern Europe. The others named in the indictment are Dragomir Taskov, Boyan Gueorguiev, Rossen Daskalov, Yuliyan Milushe and Nikolay Mladenov.

The ring would send in straw buyers claiming to be employed by phony companies at lucrative salaries in an effort to obtain financing for the vehicles, the indictment charges.

The buyers sought to take possession of the cars before the dealers and their loan companies had fully verified the financial information.


In another indictment, Dimitrov and four other men are charged with trafficking in counterfeit access devices and aggravated identity theft in a scheme in spring 2009 to steal bank account numbers and PIN numbers from customers.

Bliss said in court that the defendants would then unlawfully withdraw at least $700,000 from ATMs with that information.

The four others named in the indictment are Angel Iordanov, Danail Tchanev, Brian Johnson and Stefan Georgiev.

The ring stole the information with the help of a scanning device or a small camera secretly installed at an ATM, where customers withdraw money, the indictment alleges.

After obtaining the bank information, ring members allegedly encoded it onto a blank plastic card with a magnetic strip, allowing them to withdraw the cash from the ATMs.

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