NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) –Three men have been charged in what prosecutors call an elaborate ATM scam that stole thousands of debit card numbers from unwary customers.
LISTEN: WCBS 880′s Irene Cornell reports
Authorities indicted 31-year-old Nikolai Ivanov, 28-year-old Dimitar Stamatov and 24-year-old Iordan Ivanov — who is still at large — on various charges ranging from burglary and criminal possession of forgery devices to grand and petit larceny.
Nikolai Ivanov and Stamatov, who pleaded not guilty, were also charged with identity theft.
The suspects are accused of ripping off nearly 1,500 people by planting illegal skimming devices and hidden cameras on ATMs in Union Square and Astor Place in the East Village.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said these defendants made a habit of traveling from Canada to New York — posing as tourists — to rip off hundreds of Manhattan residents and visitors.
“They were able to compromise roughly 1,100 accounts, 1,500 victims, and this was just over a four-day spree,” Vance Jr. told CBS 2′s Tony Aiello.
The defendants are accused of using the stolen debit cards to make more than $260,000 in fraudulent purchases.
Prosecutors said the alleged crooks were so clever, they even had spray paint to match the color of the side panel, where they hid the pinhole cameras.
Authorities arrested Nikolai Ivanov and Stamatov back in May, but officials say Nikolai Ivanov’s brother, Iordan Ivanov, escaped arrest after fleeing to Canada.
The DA’s office has been working with the US Department of Justice to extradite Iordan Ivanov back to New York.
Vance said there are a few simple steps customers can take to protect against being skimmed:
- Examine the ATM machine for fixtures that appear impermanent or imperfect, particularly in the vicinity of where you dip your card.
- When entering a PIN number with one hand, use the other hand to cover the PIN number entry to avoid it from being recorded by a hidden camera.
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