LAST_UPDATESun, 22 Jul 2018 9pm

Latino ATM Gang Returns

KUALA LUMPUR: AFTER a hiatus of more than a year, the slick Latin American gang has struck again, carting away more than RM1 million in a series of automated teller machine (ATM) heists in Johor and Selangor.

It was learnt that the gang had struck four ATMs of a local bank in Taman Bukit Pasir in Batu Pahat and Taman Molek in Johor Baru on Friday.

The same gang were believed to have continued their crime spree at a bank in Jalan Yong Shook Lin in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, followed by another bank in USJ 10/1J in Subang Jaya on Saturday.

Police believe the suspects could be the notorious Latin American robbers, who made headlines last year for their involvement in a string of ATM thefts here.

Sources said the manner in which the robbery was executed resembled the gang’s modus operandi.

“We believe the heists were carried out by three fair-skinned and sturdy-looking Latin American men aged
between 20 and 30 years old, and between 175cm and 180cm tall,” the source said.

The suspects were believed to have withdrawn RM168,000 from an ATM in Taman Molek, Johor Baru on Friday between 6.38pm and 11.39pm.

“Based on the closed-circuit television (CCTV) recording, the gang opened the top of the ATM
by rubbing a card on the top-right side of the machine to pull it forward.

“Next, they inserted a device and an optical disc into the ATM to hack its system by using another device installed on the machine’s exterior,” the source said.

The men would take turns to withdraw money using a device controlled from outside the machine without using an ATM card.

The bank system did not detect the withdrawals. A bank officer who noticed the reduction of money in the machine alerted the police and made a report on Saturday.

The gang repeated the same tactic at a bank in Jalan Merah in Taman Bukit Pasir, Batu Pahat and stole RM265,000.

The bank’s service manager suspected something amiss after she found that the machine did not operate when she attempted to transfer money from the ATM and contacted an officer from the monitoring department to restart the machine.

“The ATM was restarted twice but still failed to operate. The manager then printed out the ATM’s balance statement and found that there were only 27 RM50 notes in it. This was despite the bank’s system showing that the ATM was supposed to have 5,103 RM50 notes in it,” said the source.

The bank’s engineer inspected the ATM and found that it was neither pried open nor damaged.

The bank’s CCTV footage revealed that three Latin American men had used the same modus operandi to withdraw money on Friday between 11.31pm and 1.57am on Saturday.

They also struck ATMs at two banks in Subang Jaya and Petaling Jaya and fled with RM265,600 and RM303,000 respectively.

“The suspects used high-tech devices to gain access and hack into the ATMs to steal money,” the source said, adding that no arrests have been made yet.

“We have identified the suspects and are scrutinising the banks’ CCTV and those in nearby areas. We have also lifted fingerprints from the crime scene and recorded statements from witnesses,” said the source.