Romanians use bogus cards to get ATM cash

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Romanians use bogus cards to get ATM cash

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency announced Sunday that the police arrested a Romanian couple that attempted to withdraw 36.9 million won ($33,053) from ATMs in Seoul with forged credit cards.

The couple exploited a loophole in domestic bank regulations that allow foreigners to withdraw cash with the old-fashioned magnetic strip credit cards.

According to the police, while staying in Korean hotels on Sept. 17 and Oct. 12, the couple forged credit cards that appear to be issued in the United States and Europe by using financial information stolen from people outside Korea.

The two then obtained loyalty cards from franchises like coffee chains and input the stolen financial information in their magnetic strips. The two succeeded in withdrawing 6.7 million won in 189 attempts, 21 of which were successful. The rest were not.

Since 2014, Korean banks have only allowed cash withdrawals using cards with integrated circuits imbedded.

However, a few banks in Korea allow foreign tourists withdrawals with the less-secure magnetic strip cards because they may come from countries where IC chips are not available, or they might have a damaged IC chip that prevents them from withdrawing cash in Korea.

“We have advised the Financial Supervisory Service to improve these loopholes,” said the police.

The police were informed of the couple being in Korea by Interpol on Oct. 11. On Oct. 16, the police were able to locate the couple’s residence, where they were then arrested.

Computers with stolen financial information, forged credit cards and cash were confiscated during the arrest.

“The couple withdrew 300,000 won from each ATM before moving on to the next one. They focused on withdrawing cash from ATMs on national holidays and during the weekends when they knew bank security was lax,” said the police. “After succeeding in withdrawing the cash, they were careful to take all the transaction slips with them.”

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency and Interpol will be conducting a joint investigation to find out how the couple obtained the stolen personal financial information from foreigners.

“After the investigation, the Romanian couple will face a judicial trial and be punished accordingly,” the police said.


BY CHO HAN-DAE [jeong.juwon@joongang.co.kr]

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