HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Suffolk County officials have offered tips to avoid identity theft one day after a Romanian man was charged with stealing $9,700 using a skimming device and a pinhole video camera at ATMs at two banks in the county.
Authorities said before you even put your bank or debit card into an ATM, stop and take a look.
“If you go to a particular bank that you’re using, if the sleeve that you put your card in looks like it’s changed that’s an indication that there may have been a tampering device placed over a skimming device,” Suffolk County Police Inspector Gerard McCarthy told WCBS 880′s Sophia Hall.
McCarthy said the next step is to cover up as you type in your PIN code.
“Keep your hand over your hand that’s typing in the code or put your purse or wallet over that. Generally, these things are designed with pin hole cameras,” McCarthy told Hall.
McCarthy said the ATM ID thefts work by getting the card number with the skimming device and then getting the accompanying PIN code by putting a small camera at the ATM machine.
Some Long Islanders have their own way of protecting against ID theft.
“I don’t use ATM machines, I go either into the bank or actually through the drive-thru,” Monique Hennings told CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan.
Marian Serban, a 43-year-old Romanian citizen, was first arrested on March 13, after an investigation that he had rigged an ATM at the Astoria Federal Savings bank at 33 Main St., in Kings Park with a skimming system.
Further investigations revealed that just three days earlier, Serban also set up a skimming system at an ATM at an Astoria Federal Savings bank located at 320 Walt Whitman Road in Huntington Station.
“These are kind of organized crime issues from eastern Europe that come in here and they are able to move people around fairly successfully and continue with this,” said McCarthy.
In total, Serban stole $9,700 from 13 victims and obtained financial information from 25 accounts using the skimming systems, Suffolk County police said.
Serban lives in Romania, and has stayed at various hotels around the country. He has previously visited Miami and Las Vegas, police said.
Officials said the investigation has not ended with Serban’s arrest.
They said he may be part of a larger group involved in international bank and identity theft.
“They’ve become the world-renowned subject experts on technologically scamming money from banks,” former FBI agent Manny Gomez told McLogan.
He was arrested again Wednesday at Suffolk County First District Court in Central Islip after an appearance in connection with the March 13 arrest. He was charged with grand larceny and identity theft.
Serban pleaded not guilty to the charges Thursday and denied he was trained in Romania to bring a skimming ring into the U.S.
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