FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 6, 2018
Four Defendants Indicted for Conspiring to Steal Personal Information from Bank Customers Using Skimming Devices and Hidden Cameras
Defendants Allegedly Stole Debit and Credit Card Information and Personal Identification Numbers from Customers Using Bank Automated Teller Machines in Southern Brooklyn
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that four Brooklyn residents have been arraigned on a 391-count indictment for allegedly stealing personal information from bank customers and using it to create forged credit and debit cards, stealing more than $12,000 from financial institutions in Sheepshead Bay, Coney Island, Brighton Beach, and Midwood.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants allegedly engaged in an intricate scheme to steal thousands of dollars from financial institutions. We will now seek to hold them responsible. In Brooklyn, we are committed to protecting our financial institutions and their customers from scams such as this.”
The District Attorney identified the defendants as Sergiu Panusescu, a.k.a., Manu Rocca, 36; Artur Mereacre, 33; Domitru Donciu, 30; and Aleksandr Popovici, 32, all of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. They were arraigned before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Martin Murphy on a 391-count indictment in which they are charged with fifth-degree conspiracy, criminal possession of forgery devices, third- and fourth-degree grand larceny, petit larceny and criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second- and third-degree. They were ordered to return to court on October 23, 2018. Bail was continued at $75,000 cash or $35,000 bond for Rocca; $20,000 cash or $10,000 bond for Mereacre; $20,000 cash or $10,000 bond for Donciu; and $10,000 cash or $5,000 bond for Popovici.
The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, between February 12, 2017 and July 17, 2018, the defendants allegedly sought to obtain debit and credit card information, bank account information and personal identification numbers from ATM customers using electronic devices – skimmers and video cameras – attached to or near a bank ATM.
It was part of the conspiracy for the defendants to install skimming devices inside of the card reader slots of ATM machines to record the information encoded on the magnetic strip on the back of any bank card inserted into the ATMs which contained a skimmer device. Additionally, the defendants allegedly placed a hidden video camera upon or near the ATMs containing skimming devices, with the hidden camera pointing at the area of the PIN pad to record and capture the PINs when they were being entered by the bank card customers onto the ATM’s PIN pad.
The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, the defendants allegedly synchronized the records obtained from the skimmer device with the input of the corresponding PIN by the customer captured by the hidden video camera. The defendants used their own card or a “sync card” that was easily identified to synchronize video of the captured PIN with the magnetic strip data associated with the same sync card.
The defendants then removed the skimmer devices and video cameras at a later time. The information unlawfully obtained from those skimmer devices and video cameras was then used to create forged debit and credit cards.
In addition to the forged debit and credit cards derived from the skimmer devices and cameras installed by the defendants, the defendants obtained other separate forged debit cards with account information encoded on the magnetic strips of the cards and the corresponding PINs hand written on the back of each card.
Furthermore, the District Attorney said, from April 29, 2018 to May 13, 2018, the defendants the defendants used the cards to obtain approximately $12,772 cash from Chase Bank.
Finally, the District Attorney said, approximately 183 forged, or re-encoded, debit and credit cards, five skimmer devices, three pin hole cameras, and over $60,000 in cash were recovered from the defendants’ home last month during the execution of search warrants.
The investigation was conducted by New York City Police Officer Michael McCaffrey, of the Financial Crimes Task Force, Identity Theft Squad, with the assistance of Detective Timothy Finn, Detective James Lilla and Detective Edrian Irizarry, also of the Financial Crimes Task Force, Identity Theft Squad, under the supervision of Sergeant Christopher Doty, Lieutenant David Cagno and Deputy Inspector Christopher Flanagan.
The case was additionally investigated by Assistant District Attorney Nicole Manini, of the District Attorney’s Green Zone Trial Bureau, with the assistance of Assistant District Attorney Michael Pesin-Virovets, Paralegal Aurora Martinez and Legal Intern Aneesa Osborne.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Nicole Manini, of the District Attorney’s Green Zone Trial Bureau, with the assistance of Senior Assistant District Attorney Charles Guria, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Glenn Singer and Assistant District Attorney James Lin, Deputy Chiefs of the Green Zone, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney David Klestzick, Chief of the Green Zone Trial Bureau.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.