Phuket Court Issues Arrest Warrant for Russian Wanted for 12 Million Baht ATM Heist
PHUKET – The Phuket provincial court on Monday issued a warrant for the arrest of Russian National Rustam Shambasov, 29, suspected to be among the seven suspects stealing 12 million baht from malware-infected ATMs of state-run Government Savings Bank (GSB) this month.
Rustam Shambasov, who has already left the Kingdom arrived from Beijing at Phuket airport on July 14 and already left Thailand through Suvarnabhumi airport on Aug 1st, Pol Gen Panya Mamen, a senior adviser to the Royal Thai Police Office reported.
Pol Gen Panya Mamen, said police were gathering evidence to seek arrest warrants for other Russian and European suspects believed to be hiding in the country.
Shambasov, allegedly siphoned money 13 times from the hacked ATMs in Bangkok and Phuket and made off with altogether 3.04 million baht.
Police identified the Russian from the records he used to rent a Toyota Fortuner, a vehicle allegedly used to commit the crime.
According to media reports, investigators divided suspects into three groups who used four vehicles in central and southern provinces. Besides the Fortuner, a Toyota Vios, a Honda Civic and an unidentified car were used.
The first group robbed the ATMs in Phuket, then in Chumphon, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Phetchaburi provinces before returning to Phuket.
The second group operated in Phuket and flew to Bangkok for more thefts while the last group hacked the machines in Phangnga province.
GSB announced on Aug 23 that it shut down indefinitely around 3,300 or 47% of its 7,000 ATMs nationwide after learning that it lost 12 million baht to the heist happening to 21 ATMs in central and southern provinces mainly from Aug 1 to 8.
The bank reported that the robbers loaded malware onto each ATMs to disconnect the machines from its central system and then reprogrammed them to dispense banknotes.
The theft came shortly after Taiwan announced that a group of foreigners had managed to steal US$2.5 million (S$3.4 million) from cash machines using a similar method.
Thailand has long been a hub for cyber criminals, both Thais and foreigners.
The current junta government has vowed to crack down on foreign criminals in an operation which immigration police have called “Good guys in, bad guys out”.
Last month Thai police announced they had detained a Russian man and an Uzbek woman in cooperation with the FBI. They are accused of running a hacking syndicate that stole some $29 million from bank accounts.
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