ATM skimming ring compromised over 6,000 bank accounts

U.S. federal authorities have announced the filing of an indictment against two alleged leaders of an international scheme to steal customer bank account information using “skimming” technology that secretly recorded the data of customers who used ATMs at banks in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

According to the allegations of the Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, Gabor and Pintillie were, from at least April 2012 through December 2012, the leaders of an ATM skimming ring based in New York and Chicago.

Gabor, Pintillie, and at least nine other co-conspirators placed electronic devices, which Gabor obtained from Hungary, on security card readers that secretly recorded a customer’s bank account data when the customer used an ATM.

The co-conspirators also installed hidden “pin hole” video cameras on ATM machines that secretly recorded customers’ Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) as the customers pressed these numbers on ATM keypads in order to access their accounts.

After a period of time, the co-conspirators would remove the skimming devices and provide them to Gabor and Pintillie, who would use the stolen bank account and PIN numbers in order to create new bank cards that could be used to withdraw funds from victim accounts.

Gabor and Pintillie also maintained stash locations at multiple self-storage facilities where they stored skimming devices and other equipment and materials necessary to execute the scheme. At one location in Queens, New York, the two stored computer equipment that contained hundreds of hours of video camera footage of individual customers inputting PIN numbers onto ATM keypads, over 1,000 plastic cards encoded with stolen account information, and components for ATM skimming devices and pin hole cameras.

The ring targeted J.P. Morgan Chase (“Chase”), and Capital One, N.A. banks. Throughout the course of the scheme, they engaged in over 50 skimming incidents that resulted in the compromise of over approximately 6,000 individual bank accounts, from which the defendants made and attempted to make over approximately $3 million in unauthorized withdrawals.

Gabor, 30, allegedly a citizen of Denmark, and Pintillie, 32, a Romanian citizen, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, which carries a maximum of 30 years in prison, one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, which carries a maximum of seven and one half years, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory minimum of two years in prison.

Both were arrested in Skokie, Illinois on December 6, 2012 and have been in federal custody. Gabor is being transported to New York for arraignment and will arrive at a date to be determined. Pintillie will be arraigned before U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan on Tuesday, February 19 at 9:30 a.m.

“While traditional bank robberies may be on the wane, the charges we bring today are a reminder of the threat that cybercrime poses to banks and their customers. Together with our law enforcement partners, we remain committed to stopping these alleged high-tech bank robbers in their tracks,” commented Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

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