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Auburndale man charged with ‘jackpotting’ ATMs in Elmhurst and Kew Gardens: DA

An Auburndale resident is charged with “jackpotting” ATMs at the Qeens Center mall in Elmhurst and a grocery store in Kew Gardens making of with nearly $250,000 in cash.
Photo by Michael Shain
By Bill Parry

An Auburndale man has been charged with grand larceny for allegedly stealing nearly a quarter of a million dollars in cash from ATMs in both Elmhurst and Kew Gardens in December 2017, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Eric Salazar Montano, 33, is accused of dressing as a technician and hacking the machines to dispense cash as if the user had literally hit a slot machine jackpot.

“As alleged, this individual brazenly posed as a technician in order to manipulate automated teller machines and obtain more than $240,000 in cash,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said. “But following an NYPD investigation conducted by the Financial Crimes Task Force, this person was identified, arrested and will be held responsible for his criminal actions.”

Salazar Montano was arraigned March 14 before Queens Criminal Court Judge Toko Serita on charges of grand larceny, computer tampering, criminal possession of a forged instrument and computer trespassing.

Salazar Montano and an unknown accomplice were caught on surveillance video Jan. 28 at a grocery store on Metropolitan Avenue in Kew Gardens and after manipulating the ATM, they were able to remove $154,000 cash without using a bank card, according to the criminal complaint.

Two days later, the two were again caught on camera at an ATM kiosk inside the Queens Center mall in Elmhurst. Salazar Montano is accused of tinkering with the ATM and minutes later, collected more than $42,000 in cash.

“As society becomes more tech savvy, today’s criminals are keeping pace and finding new ways to enrich themselves illegally,” Brown said. “The defendant in this case is accused of using his computer skills to hack into ATM software and collect the cash that poured out of the manipulated machines. This new trend is called ‘jackpotting’ and we are set to deliver big losses for gamblers who want to ante up. My office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to stay ahead of the curve and prosecute those who find new ways to steal from others.”

Brown said law enforcement executed a court-authorized search warrant on Salazar Montano’s Hollis Court home March 13 and allegedly recovered a forged credit/debit card and more than $42,000 in cash. The judge set bail at $30,000 bond or $15,000 cash and ordered Salazar Montano to return to court March 27. If convicted he faces up to 15 years in prison.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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