Three Queens men were sentenced to jail time for their participation in a months-long ATM skimming scheme that amassed over $80,000 in cash and hundreds of forged credit or debit cards.
The men involved in the crime were identified as Bogdan Stoica, 36, Janos Mihalka, 37, from Woodside and Marius Adrian Pop, 40, from Elmhurst. The defendants were involved in several elaborate bank ATM thefts that spanned from July to September 2017.
Back in October 2017, the men were charged with second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. Stoica and Mihalka were faced with additional charges, including first- and second-degree identity theft, petit larceny, fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and third-degree unlawful possession of personal identification information.
All three defendants pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and were sentenced by Queens Supreme Court Justice Suzanne Melendez. Both Stoica and Mihalka were sentenced to one year in jail, while their accomplice, Pop, was sentenced to nine months.
The two men from Woodside were observed on surveillance footage over a period of three months, wherein they were seen tampering with ATMs at a Santander Bank on Union Turnpike, installing and removing skimming devices at multiple TD Bank locations on Hillside Avenue, Northern Boulevard and Metropolitan Avenue. They also used a forged bank card to withdraw nearly $800 from a Queen’s woman’s TD Bank savings account.
According to District Attorney of Queens County Richard A. Brown, two separate court-ordered search warrants were executed in Stoica and Mihalka’s shared 45th Street residence and Pop’s home on Ketcham Street. In addition to cash and forged credit and debit cards, police found over 130 forgery devices including 129 deep-insert metal skimming devices, eight false panel PIN-capturing devices, and two green overlay skimming devices.
The skimming devices that the criminals used can read encoded bank card information and personal identification. Once the information is registered in the devices, scammers can retrieve and copy it onto blank credit cards.
“For most people ATMs provide a convenient access to their cash, but the defendants in this case took advantage of bank customers reliance on cash machines to steal their PIN codes and other data to create bogus credit cards for illegal use,” said District Attorney Brown.