Seems when it comes to ATM skimming Southeastern Europe is top dog. After catching a string of Romanians stealing people's ATM info and PINs over the last few years, police have charged three Bulgarian nationals living in Canada with stealing more than a quarter-million dollars from people who used Chase ATMs near Union Square earlier this year. In one "five-day skimming spree" in January Nikolai Ivanov, 31, and Dimitar Stamatov, 28, are said to have managed to steal $264,000!

"These defendants traveled to New York from Canada to rip off hundreds of Manhattan residents and visitors who did no more than use ATM machines," DA Cy Vance said yesterday. Ivanov and Stamatov were both arrested on May 24 while trying to remove an ATM skimming device they had installed on a machine at 785 Broadway. Ivanov's brother, 24-year-old Iordan Ivanov, has also been charged in the fraud but his whereabouts are currently unknown. All three men currently live in Quebec and face charges of burglary, criminal possession of forgery devices and larceny. The older men have both also been charged with identity theft. The two men in custody both men pleaded not guilty—their lawyer notes the charges are "only accusations"—and are being held in lieu of a $500,000 bail.

The trio's alleged MO was pretty simple: They'd go into banks during broad daylight, slip a card reader over the machine's card slot (basically a green plastic lip around the slot) and install a pinhole camera focused on the machine's keypad. Then, after about six or so hours, they would come back for their gear. From there they would download the pertinent info to unknown accomplices who then used the data to withdraw money and make purchases in locations ranging form Arizona to Illinois to Canada. Still, according to the indictment unsealed yesterday, "a majority of the stolen money was transferred to their native Bulgaria via Western Union."

Discussing the case yesterday Vance wisely advised New Yorkers to "Examine ATM machines for fixtures that appear impermanent or imperfect, particularly in the vicinity of where you dip your card."

Chase, whose ATMs were at the heart of the sceheme, says it has notified and issued new cards to all customers who were affected.