MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Four Romanian citizens are accused of stealing the financial data of customers using ticket machines at Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North stations.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said the suspects placed “skimming” devices and hidden cameras near ticket vending machines in Chappaqua, Sea Cliff, Bayside, Great Neck, Merillon Avenue and Greenvale stations.
Then they allegedly stole customers’ PIN numbers and other financial information.
The full extent of the alleged scam is still being investigated and customers who used the machines in the past three months are urged to check their accounts for unauthorized activity.
“So far one bank has reported thousands of dollars of losses on over 50 accounts,” Rice said.
Two of the suspects — Valer Zaharia, 38, and his wife Teodora Zaharia, 27 — were arrested at the Sea Cliff station on Monday.
The other two suspects — Niculae Petre, 45, and Dorin Husa, 37 — were arrested in a Queens apartment Tuesday.
If convicted, the suspects face deportation and a maximum of seven years in prison.
“Ticket vending machines are a source of convenience for thousands of people who take the railroad every single day, but unfortunately those machines have become a source of convenience and opportunity for a crew of brazen thieves targeting commuters,” Rice said.
To protect yourself against potential fraud, Rice says:
- Beware of suspicious activity or individuals at or around ticket vending machines, and walk away if you notice anyone watching you or if something seems suspicious about the machine itself.
- When entering your PIN, stand close to the machine and use your other hand or an object to block the view of the keypad.
- Try to use credit cards or cash instead of debit cards, which when compromised give criminals direct access to all the funds in a cardholder’s checking account.
- Review your account statements regularly to check for unauthorized withdrawals or purchases.
- Never keep a written copy of your PIN in your wallet or purse.
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