They’ve got way more than 99 problems now.
Four men have been indicted on 908 counts in an indictment announced Tuesday for their alleged roles in a scheme to steal identities through ATM skimmers placed at banks across the city.
Brooklyn’s Ionut Gherasim, 29, Ionut Paraschiu, 31, Zsolt Dezsy, 37, and Robert Duczon, 37, were charged in the indictment with criminal possession of forgery devices, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, second-degree unlawful possession of personal identification information and fifth-degree conspiracy.
In footage obtained during the course of the investigation, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, the defendants were allegedly seen tinkering with ATM devices. They either removed and replaced the top panel of the ATM, or manipulated the bottom part of the machine in order to install the skimmer.
Skimmers read the magnetic strip on the back of credit and debit cards, which contains the personal and bank account information of the user. Thieves typically sell the information obtained by the skimmers to other fraudsters, or use the info to create fraudulent credit and debit cards to withdraw cash or complete transactions.
Detectives executed a court-authorized search of Paraschiu’s home and recovered skimmers as well as false ATM panels with cameras angled to record victims entering their PIN and numerous re-encoded cards from a number of financial institutions.
Similar gadgets were allegedly thrown out of the window during a raid in the apartment of defendants Duczon, Dezsy and Gherasim, prosecutors said. After an additional search warrant was executed in their home, law enforcement allegedly recovered skimmers, false ATM panels, plastic cards and other objects.
“For most people, ATMs are an access point to acquiring cash easily and quickly. But just as swiftly as one swipes their bank card, their account details can be stolen,” Brown said in a statement. “The four defendants in this case are accused of conspiring to steal the identity of ATM users by replacing whole ATM panels with pinhole cameras aimed to record customers inputting their PIN numbers and skimmers. This kind of stealth thievery will not be tolerated in Queens County.”
If convicted, the defendants each face up to seven years in prison.
Brown recommends that people who believe they may be victims of identity theft should contact credit reporting bureaus and their local police precinct, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or the United States Postal Service.