Estonians, Turks arrested on fake ATM card use charges

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Pattaya police have arrested two Estonians and two Turks for allegedly using counterfeit ATM cards to steal millions in baht from Thai banks.

Turks Orhan Bel, 33, and Ercan Saruhan, 27; and Estonians Maksim Prijatkin, 19, and Aleksandr Melnik, 24, were apprehended in separate incidents Sept. 15.

The Turkish duo was arrested outside a Siam Commercial Bank on Second Road with six fake cards and 50,000 baht cash. The Estonians were taken into custody inside their Thappraya Soi 13 condominium with 40 fake cards, a card-making machine, two notebook computers and credit card slips.

Estonians Maksim Prijatkin and Aleksandr Melnik are suspected of being part of a larger fraud ring that may involve Thai nationals. Estonians Maksim Prijatkin and Aleksandr Melnik are suspected of being part of a larger fraud ring that may involve Thai nationals.

All were charged with possession and production of fake electronic cards and theft.

Police said the Turks confessed to entering Thailand Sept. 8 and stealing millions of baht from Pattaya ATMs, then transferring 70 percent of the funds back to Turkey. They said they procured the cards from a Turkish friend.

The Estonians, police alleged, had entered Thailand on Aug. 27 and come directly to Pattaya to loot teller machines of more than 10 million baht. They were caught when fraud officials at Kasikorn Bank alerted police to suspect transactions and they were tracked back to the condo, one of many they had used in the past several weeks, police said.

Turks Orhan Bel and Ercan Saruhan have been arrested for ATM fraud. Turks Orhan Bel and Ercan Saruhan have been arrested for ATM fraud.

The Estonians, police said, used their ill-gotten gains to purchase Apple Inc. electronics products and computers. The victims of the card fraud were residents of Finland, the United States, South Korea and other foreign countries.

Police suspect the Estonians are part of a larger fraud ring that may involve Thai nationals and the investigation is continuing.

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