Stolen Koh Tao Ipad signal leads Phuket police to electronic card skimmer suspects

From the Phuket News:

PHUKET: The GPS tracking signal of an Ipad reported stolen recently on Koh Tao led Phuket police to a house on the south of the island early this morning, where they found and arrested three suspects in possession of the stolen item along with electronic cards and skimming equipment believed to have been used to target ‘many tourists over several years’.

Acting on a tipoff from the Koh Tao Police in Surat Thani, Phuket Police at 1am early this morning (November 1) tracked the stolen Ipad GPS signal to a house on Soi Sai 1 in Chalong.

After noting three foreign suspects on motorbike arrive at the house, officers identified themselves before proceeding to search the house, where they found the stolen Ipad and a number of other items, which were seized as evidence.

The suspects were named as 21-year-old Juan Pablo Da Costa Varao, a French national of Latin descent; 26 year-old Phellipe Andre Dias and 24-year-old Lucidio Firmino da Silva Junior, both Brazilian nationals.

Police seized a notebook computer, Ipad, two Iphones, three skimming devices, two Visa electronic cards and one Mastercard electronic card, and charged the suspects with “joining together and possessing equipment for duplicating or copying electronic card data belonging to others” and “theft of valuables belonging to others”.

The suspects were taken to Phuket Provincial Police station and questioned with the help of a French interpreter.

“We believe they’re part of an international skimming gang that has been working together for three to five years targeting tourists in international tourist destinations throughout Asia and inter-continentally,” said the Pol Col Somkid Boonrat, the Phuket officer in charge of the case.

“They’ve all denied being part of an international skimmer gang but admitted that the [skimming] equipment belongs to them and was brought from Brazil.”

Col Somkid said that the skimming equipment was examined and found to have recorded information of “many foreign tourists” but did not elaborate further.

“This gang appears to have a unique process that involves theft of personal items too, whereas skimmers usually just target electronic cards,” Col Somkid added.

The Ipad is in the process of being returned to its owner, a foreign tourist currently on Koh Tao.