Skim scammers hit Byron ATMs and send money to Bulgaria

POLICE have arrested three men who they allege skimmed $1 million from ATMs in three states, including at Byron Bay, and sent the money to Bulgaria.

The arrests of the men, including the operation's Australian syndicate head, come following a seven month investigation by Queensland police attached to Strike Force Maxima.

Money laundering offences

A 49-year-old Gold Coast man was arrested and charged yesterday with Commonwealth money laundering offences.

It is alleged he is responsible for over $540,000.00 being sent from Australia to Bulgaria between 2009 and 2015 which he poured into his scuba diving business.

This follows the arrest of a 46-year-old Brisbane man and a 30-year-old Tweed Heads man, who were also charged with money laundering offences in the past week.

Motorcycle gang connections

Police believe the Brisbane man was previously a long-standing member of the Rebels Outlaw Motorcycle Gang.

Detective Acting Inspector Jason Gough of Taskforce Maxima said the investigations were still continuing into a large number of ATM card skimming offences committed in South East Queensland, northern New South Wales and Melbourne over the past six years.

The offences include a July 2015 incident in Yarraville, Melbourne, and extend back to June 2009 where cards were skimmed on the Gold Coast before approximately $100,000 in cash was stolen via ATMs in Bulgaria.

Investigators have been working closely with a number of financial institutions and well as liaising with partner law enforcement agencies.

Search warrants executed

Search warrants have been executed on a number of addresses in both Queensland and Victoria and have resulted in the seizure of a range of items believed to be related to ATM skimming activity including wigs, fake beards, hats and sunglasses along with electronic equipment.

Police also seized $5,000 cash, two Harley Davidson motorcycles, and other items suspected of being proceeds of crime.

Detective Acting Inspector Gough urged ATM users to be vigilant and to report suspicious behaviour by other ATM users to police.

"Experience has shown that offenders will often try to conceal their facial features as much as possible," he said.

"Evidence obtained during this investigation has also shown us that when customers covered the keypad with their hand, the offenders' efforts to skim the data was thwarted."

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