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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

4 Held in $500,000 ATM Scam

Police have detained four local men suspected of using fake ATM cards to steal some $500,000 from private accounts in Western countries, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

The four suspects, aged 24 to 30, face charges of large-scale fraud for withdrawing the cash with fake cards out of 12 bank machines in central Moscow between February and May, said Irina Volk, a spokeswoman for the economic crimes unit of the Moscow police.

The ATMs were all located on the street, rather than inside banks.

The suspects' names were not disclosed given the ongoing investigation.

Volk said the suspects defrauded "12 to 15 wealthy U.S. citizens who have never been to Russia."

Investigators believe the suspects obtained the credit card numbers and other information from scam artists operating in France, the United States and Canada, she said. In return, the Russians are thought to have shared their takings with their overseas accomplices, she added.

To withdraw cash, the suspects used white plastic cards with encoded magnetic stripes, Volk said, adding that they did not bother to make the fake cards look like real ones.

The suspects were captured on video cameras that police had installed near the targeted ATMs. The police took action after Moscow banks tipped them off that the four men repeatedly withdrew cash at night and provided police with their own videotapes backing up the claim.

Volk said police detained the suspects Wednesday, after they had recorded enough episodes to open a criminal investigation, and that the suspects were found with 12 plastic cards and $2,500 in stolen cash.

Police also searched an apartment in southwestern Moscow that the suspects were renting in order to produce fake cards there, Volk said. In that raid, police seized $60,000 and more than 100 plastic cards, she said.

If the four are found guilty, they face up to 10 years in prison.