Russian trio charged in Hong Kong after failing to steal HK$1.39 million from HSBC ATM

Wires connected to cash dispenser tampered with and key to machine found near location where two of the three men were arrested

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2017, 2:08pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2017, 2:41pm

Two Russian men claiming to be in Hong Kong for sightseeing instead hatched a plan with a countryman to steal money from an HSBC cash machine, a court was told.

Despite making two attempts to hack the ATM – which contained around HK$1.39 million in cash – the trio went away empty handed, the prosecution alleged.

Starostin Aleksei, Arustamov Sergey and Kerimov Farid have been charged with attempted theft at the District Court in Wan Chai.

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CCTV footage shows Aleksei and Sergey, who are both in their 30s, going to ATMs in Tuen Mun in the early hours of both February 16 and February 17, prosecutor Kamlesh Sadhwani wrote in his opening address submitted to Judge Don So Man-lung on Wednesday.

Computer records showed that wires connected to the cash dispenser in one ATM had been tampered with. A key that could unlock the machine in question was found near the ATM Centre in Tuen Mun Town Plaza, where Aleksei and Sergey were arrested.

In a police interview, Aleksei said he had come to Hong Kong for some sightseeing, while Sergey said he was living in mainland China and had come to the city for martial arts training.

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Farid, who is in his mid-20s, told police he had been in Hong Kong since 2006 and lived in a village house in Tai Po with his wife and daughter.

He claimed he had taken Aleksei and Sergey to Tuen Mun for sightseeing, but the pair disappeared when he went off to buy drinks.

The prosecutor said however that WeChat conversations would show Sergey told Farid to look into the ATM alarm systems, prepare an ATM key and get a vehicle ready.

The conversations would also show that Aleksei and Sergey arranged to come to Hong Kong intending to hack the ATM’s computer, Sadhwani said.

The first witnesses in the bench trial are expected to take the stand on Thursday.