Police have arrested 2 Bulgarian nationals in Nelson overnight in connection with attacks on ATM machines in Canterbury and Nelson.
Detective Inspector John Winter, Crime Services Manager for the Tasman Police District, said Detectives from Canterbury and Nelson had worked together with various Banking Institutes during the week and terminated the operation on Thursday afternoon after executing a search warrant on a Nelson motel.
The two had been in the country for a number of weeks after arriving from Bulgaria via Singapore.
It was believed that the alleged offenders had been attempting to access personal banking details electronically from the machines to be subsequently sent overseas for use with counterfeit credit cards. Police had been in close contact with the banks involved, which had moved swiftly to protect their customer's funds by cancelling their cards. All card holders would be contacted by their bank and new cards issued.
It would take some time for the police electronic crime lab to examine the various exhibits recovered from the alleged offenders' motel and rental car and assess whether any loss of personal data had occurred, and if so, the extent of the loss.
Theft of banking data by electronically 'skimming' the information from ATM machines is a very serious offence, as counterfeiters overseas can generate bogus cards with the stolen personal banking data embedded into the card. This card can then be used by criminals as if it were a legitimate card causing potential loss of funds to the account holder.
Police would like to hear from any members of the public who may have witnessed suspicious activity around ATM outlets in the Canterbury or Nelson Districts over the past three weeks.
Police would be seeking a remand in custody to Christchurch for the 2 alleged offenders, and further charges were likely.