Bulgarian Credit Card Fraud Gang Appears in US Court
Bulgarians accused of draining bank card assets as part of an organized criminal gang led by Gheorgui "Mitsubishi" Martov appeared before a US court on Thursday.
Both prosecution and defense were heard at the first court sitting, according to Bulgaria's Dariknews.bg.
Evidence against Martov and fifteen other Bulgarians was presented at the preliminary hearing.
Martov was arrested in the US along with his fellow members in an FBI operation on March 26 and was described as part of a 30-strong crime group dealing with ATM fraud schemes.
Last month the Bulgarian was accused of helping to drain thousands of USD (some USD 200 000 a week) from credit cards by providing numbers of cards stolen in Europe to gang members.
The authorities said his scheme had its headquarters in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Tanya Dimitrova, Martov's attorney, demanded that her client be transferred to another detention center in Chicago, but judge Ronald A. Guzman declined her request.
The Prosecutor's Office announced it was in the midst of investigating into more wiretapped phone conversations among the suspects, which means more evidence is likely to be introduced in court later on.
Defense representatives however said they needed more time even to look thoroughly at the evidence already filed.
Federal Judge Ronald A. Guzman became wide-known to the media following his ruling that the UK's financial company HSBC was to pay a USD 2.46 B fine for violating federal securities laws.
Martov, for his part, is considered by prosecutors to be an figure of some importance on the criminal scene, as he is suspected of having strong ties to Bulgarian mafia.