2017-10-11 / Front Page

ATM ‘Skimmer’ Ring Busted

By Liz Goff
Cops busted a ring of Romanian ATM thieves on October 4, who were charged with stealing more than $100,000 by installing skimming devices on ATM machine in Queens.

Armed with a court-authorized search warrant, police at the NYPD Financial Crimes Task Force raided two Queens apartments on October 4, where they arrested three people in connection with the scam.
Marius Adrian Popi, 39, was arrested at his home on Ketcham Street in Elmhurst, police said. Bogden Stoica, 36, and Janos Mihalka, 36, were arrested at their apartment on 45th Street in Sunnyside, where police seized nearly 300 forged credit and/or debit cards, two green overlay skimming devices, eight false panel PIN-capturing mechanisms, 129 deep-insert metal skimming devices and nearly $20,000 in cash.
Police said the thieves likely stole much more than 100,000 in the scam by pulling off the same crimes in other parts of New York State and Pennsylvania. The three thieves are Romanian natives, authorities said.
All three were arraigned on two criminal complaints charging them with criminal possession of a forged instrument, prosecutors said. Stoica and Mihalka are also charged with criminal possession of a forgery device, multiple counts of identity theft, petit larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and unlawful possession of personal identification information. Bail was set at $1.5 million bond or $1 million cash for each of the defendants, prosecutors said. If convicted, each face up to seven years in prison.
According to a separate complaint, Stoica and Mihalka were allegedly observed surveillance footage at seven different banks in Queens, installing and, in some instances, attempting to remove skimming devices from ATM machines. ATM skimmers are devices that read encoded bank card information, user personal identification information and PIN numbers. The recorded data can be retrieved at a later time and copied onto fake, blank credit and debit cards.
Prosecutors said Mihalka and Stoica were caught on surveillance footage tampering with ATM machines at several banks and a credit union on Queens between July and September 2017. The two men were later observed on surveillance footage using a forged card to access the bank account of a Queens woman, and allegedly withdrawing $383 and $363 of the woman’s savings from ATM machines in August 2017, prosecutors said.

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