Bulgaria Security Threats

Data and information about security threats from Bulgaria’s black market. Intelligence data and security threat information collected from news articles and public information sources.

Criminals are using exploiting holes in wireless security to steal passwords and account details from ATM machines without the need installing skimming devices.

Criminals conduct this activity by placing a “skimming” device over the card reader of a legitimate ATM and install a pin pad over the keys. When a customer would use the ATM, the skimming machine would be able to capture the customers account data as well as the pin code. Once the machine was recovered, then the criminal would  have the information needed to breach the account.

Internet security experts state that criminals are now attempting to access debit card pin numbers and account information without installing the devices by targeting the machines through the internet.

In its 2014 Data Breach Investigation Report, Verizon studied 130 incidents of ATM skimming cases in 2013. Most of the ATM breaches took place at ATM machines and at gas pumps, where many customers use their debit cards to purchase gas. According to the report, the country with the most ATM skimming cases was Bulgaria, followed by Armenia, Romania, Brazil and the United States.

Source:  Jordan Robertson, “What Happens When the ‘Internet of Things’ Comes to ATM Skimmers,” Bloomberg, April 22, 2014.

The European Commission for Home Affairs released a study that found the European Union loses at least $162 Billion (€120 Billion) to corruption each year.

More than 75 percent of citizens in EU member states believe that corruption is widespread in their country. More than half also stated that they felt corruption was increasing in their country.

The top countries where citizens expected to pay bribes to officials were in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. In these countries, between 6 to 29 percent of people surveyed reported that they had either been asked for a bribe or was expected to pay a bribe within the last year. In many of the incidents, the bribes were prevalent in the healthcare industry. An example was previously reported in about the corruption in Romania’s healthcare industry.

The lowest rate of bribes were reported in the United Kingdom, where less than 1 percent reported that they either paid a bribe or were expected to.

In a survey of businesses, four out of 10 companies stated that corruption was an obstacle to doing business in the EU.

(More on the effects of corruption.)

Source:  “Corruption across EU ‘breathtaking’ – EU Commission,” BBC News, February 3, 2014.

According to the director of a criminal justice program operating in the country, around 30 percent of students in Bulgaria have used some type of illegal drugs in their lifetimes.

The most used drugs by students in the country were amphetamines, ecstasy and cocaine.

The drug use by students was concentrated in the bigger cities of Bulgaria, where the illegal drug trade was more developed.

(Price of cocaine per gram around the world.)

Source:  “30% of Bulgarian pupils have taken some type of drugs: expert,” Focus News Agency, January 24, 2014.


According to criminal justice departments across the European Union, over 60 percent of the human trafficking victims in the EU between 2008 to 2010 were of European origins.

During the three years, over 7,000 women and girls and over 2,000 men and boys from EU member states were identified as victims of human trafficking. By comparison, over 1,200 women and 94 males from Africa were identified as victims.

Officials state that most of the victims originate from Bulgaria and Romania.

(More human trafficking statistics.)

Source:  Associated Press, “In EU, most human trafficking victims are European, experts say,” Toronto Star, November 26, 2013.

In 2011, criminal justice agencies in the European Union seized 2.1 million counterfeit toys.  According to a breakdown by Toy News, five countries in the EU accounted for 57 percent of those seizures.

Top five EU member states where fake toys were seized in 2011:

1. Romania:  319,174 counterfeit toys seized.

2. Germany:  308,506 counterfeit toys seized.

3. France:  212,273 counterfeit toys seized.

4. Spain:  193,149 counterfeit toys seized.

5.  Bulgaria:  181,838 counterfeit toys seized.

Source:  Dominic Sacco, “Romania is counterfeit toy capital of Europe,” Toy News, April 18, 2013.

The European Commission reported that  counterfeit euros in across the European Union causes a $676 Million (€500 Million) financial impact.

Europol stated that most of the counterfeit banknotes that are detected and passed across the EU originated from Bulgaria, Colombia and Italy.

Source:  Vincent Ryan, “Ireland’s counterfeit gang laws ‘insufficient’,” Irish Examiner, February 6, 2013.

An anti-trafficking organization reported that three out of four prostitutes working in the red light district of Amsterdam were from economically distressed communities. Not-for-Sale stated at a conference on women’s rights that 75 percent of the women came from poor communities in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania.

Source:  Belinda Goldsmith, “Younger girls forced into prostitution in economic crisis: conference,” Reuters, December 5, 2012.

The Bulgarian Customs Agency reported that the 15 percent of all cigarettes sold in Bulgaria in 2012 were sold on the black market as smuggled cigarettes. The number of cigarettes sold in the country that avoided taxes was down from 30 percent in 2010.

44 percent of the Bulgaria’s 7.4 million population smoke cigarettes.

Source:  AFP, “Contraband cigarettes smuggled in coffins in Bulgaria,” Google News, November 13, 2012.

Authorities in Bulgaria reported rescuing 550 victims of human trafficking in the country in 2011. In the first half of the year, 313 victims were found.

In total, the human trafficking market in Bulgaria generates $1.5 Billion in revenue and has between 8,000 to 12,00 victims.

Source:  “550 Human Trafficking Victims Registered in Bulgaria in 2011,” novinite.com, July 13, 2012.

According to a report by the Center for the Study of Democracy, rackets by organized crime in Bulgaria generate $2.2 Billion (1.7 Billion Euros) in revenue each year.

The black market is estimated to be about 4.7% of the country’s GDP.

The largest black market in Bulgaria is reported to be the prostitution industry, with  $845 Million (1.26 Billion Bulgarian Lev) in revenue.

(More racketeering and extortion examples by organized crime.)

Source:  “Bulgaria’s Organized Crime Makes BGN 3.5 B Annually, Stable – NGO,” Sofia News, novinite.com,  April 3, 2012.