Sofia (AFP) - Bulgarian and Spanish law enforcement officers have busted an international crime ring stealing card numbers from ATM machines worldwide, authorities in Sofia said Saturday.
Twenty-five people were arrested in Bulgaria, Spain and Hungary in a massive police operation coordinated by Europe's law-enforcement and judicial agencies Europol and Eurojust, Bulgaria's State Agency for National Security (DANS) said in a statement.
The operation started in September 2012 in Madrid when local police uncovered a number of card-reading devices implanted in ATMs that stole people's card numbers and secret PIN codes in order to later withdraw the money with the help of counterfeit cards.
Investigators managed to track down the Bulgarian mastermind of the gang and busted two laboratories for preparing the skimming devices and the fake cards in the eastern city of Varna and in Plovdiv, in central Bulgaria.
The group has withdrawn over one million euros from ATMs in Spain only, while also being active in Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States, and several countries in Latin America and Asia.
The probe is yet to establish how much money it managed to steal worldwide, DANS said.
The group was also involved in car thefts and drug trafficking, it added.