Using hidden video cameras and covert card-reading devices, three men siphoned debit card numbers from nearly 1,500 Chase Bank customers in Manhattan and used the stolen credentials to make nearly $300,000 in transactions and withdrawals, authorities said yesterday (Nov. 16).
According to a press release from the New York County District Attorney’s Office, the men rigged four Chase ATMs in and around Union Square with 11 skimming devices that read the magnetic stripe on debit cards as they’re slid into the ATM at the beginning of a transaction.
During a five-day “skimming spree” in January, the men also used the cameras to record customers’ PINs as they entered them on the ATM keypad. In the following weeks the three men, who are residents of Quebec, used the stolen data to make more than $264,000 in fraudulent transactions in Arizona, Illinois and Canada.
They returned to New York from their homes in April to commit another skimming scam that netted them $20,000, the District Attorney’s Office said.
The men were identified as Dimitar Stamatov, 28, and brothers Nikolai Ivanov, 31, and Iordan Ivanov, 24.
“These defendants traveled to New York from Canada to rip off hundreds of Manhattan residents and visitors who did no more than use ATM machines,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said.
New York police arrested Stamatov and Nikolai Ivanov May 24 as they were retrieving a skimming device from a Chase Bank branch at 785 Broadway, Vance’s office said. They remain in custody on $500,000 bail. Iordan Ivanov is believed to be at large in Canada.
The Ivanov brothers are naturalized Canadian citizens; Stamatov is a legal permanent resident of Canada. The investigation revealed that they sent most of the stolen funds by Western Union to their native Bulgaria, authorities said.
The three men face charges including criminal possession of burglary, forgery devices and larceny. Nikolai Ivanov and Dimitar Stamatov also were charged with identity theft.
Although skimming scams are often nearly impossible to detect, there are a few safety measures you can use to lower your chances of having your debit card information stolen. When you approach an ATM, inspect it to make sure there isn’t a piece of plastic atop the card slot or the keypad. To prevent a hidden camera from recording your PIN, cover your hand when you enter your PIN.
By Matt Liebowitz
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