Two Woodside residents were charged on Oct. 6 for installing skimming devices throughout Queens ATMs and amassing hundreds of credit cards and about $80,000 in cash.
According to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, Bogdan Stoica and Janos Mihalka, both 36, installed these devices at seven banks from July through September. Skimmers can read encoded bank card information along with a user’s personal identification information and their PIN codes. The device records the data and allows criminals to copy the data onto blank credit and debit cards.
Stoica and Mihalka allegedly installed or removed skimmers from a Santander bank on Union Turnpike on July 20; a TD Bank on Hillside Avenue on July 21; a TD branch on Northern Boulevard on Aug. 2; a TD Bank on Metropolitan Avenue on Aug. 3; a Capital One bank on Queens Boulevard on Aug. 3, Sept. 18 and Sept. 20; and a Teachers Federal Credit Union on Aug. 17.
Prosecutors said they also allegedly used a forged card to access a TD Bank account of a Queens woman, withdrawing a total of $746 from her account on Aug. 3.
A court-authorized search warrant at their home on 45th Street found nearly 300 forged credit and debit cards, two green overlay skimming devices, eight false panel PIN capturing devices, 129 deep-insert metal skimming devices and nearly $20,000 in cash.
Marius Adrian Pop, 39, of Elmhurst, is also believed to be an accomplice, Brown said. After conducting a court-authorized search at his apartment on Ketcham Street, police found nearly 300 forged credit and debit cards and nearly $60,000 in cash.
“For most people ATMs provide them with easy and quick access to cash,” Brown said. “The defendants in this case are accused of taking advantage of that convenience by installing skimming devices to steal bank account numbers and PIN codes with each swipe at the machine. These kinds of credit card schemes cost hard-working individuals not just money, but time and aggravation trying to remove the damage they cause to their credit scores. This stealth thievery will not be tolerated in Queens County.”
All three defendants were charged with second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.
Stoica and Mihalka were also charged with criminal possession of forgery devices, first- and second-degree identity theft, petit larceny, fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and third-degree unlawful possession of personal identification information. Bail was set at at $1.5 million bond or $1 million cash and the defendants were ordered to return to court on Oct. 17.
If convicted, the defendants each face up to seven years in prison.