MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The search continues for three men accused of being part of a scam which “skimmed” hundreds of credit and debit cards in South Florida.
Alin Velcu, 24, Antonio Dumitru, 19, and Neamtu Vaduva, 23, along with three others, allegedly placed small portable card-reading devices, known as “skimming” devices, over or inside of the mouth of the card slot of ATM machines, as well as miniature camera.
The skimming device read and stored the information encoded on the magnetic stripes of the debit or credit cards used at the ATM by legitimate bank customers, while the camera captured customers entering their Personal Identification Numbers.
They would then allegedly remove the skimmers and create counterfeit ATM cards. These counterfeit ATM cards were then reportedly used to make unauthorized withdrawals from the legitimate bank customers’ accounts.
The FBI said between December 23rd, 2012 and February 3rd, 2013, they placed or attempted to place skimmers on ATMs at a total of 18 bank branches in a number of counties which resulted in the theft of at least 407 bank customers’ information.
Velcu, Dumitru and Vaduva, who were know to stay at various locations in Broward County, have been charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
Last Friday, the FBI announced that three members of the scheme had been taken into custody; Aris Chiciu, 23, of Fort Lauderdale, Eugen Bacelan, 29, of Fort Lauderdale, and Maurizio Margel, 19, of Fort Lauderdale. Their federal detention hearing has been scheduled for Thursday.
Police around South Florida say scams like this one are common. “It’s probably one of the fastest growing crimes not only here in South Florida but in the country,” said Capt. Dale Engle with the Davie Police Dept.
Even officers on the force have been victimized. Engle says crooks find it easier than holding up banks.
“Criminals are finally figuring out it’s much easier to steal someone’s identity and then their money than it is to go and rob a bank.”