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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. indicted three Canadian citizens, brothers Iordan and Nikolai Ivanov and Dimitar Stamatov, on Wednesday November 16th for “skimming” ATM machines. “Skimming” refers to the illegal act of copying information contained on the magnetic strip of an ATM or credit card. A successful skim allows the thief to create a fake card containing personal details and use it freely to commit identify fraud, take out loans and borrow money in its owner’s name. The three men managed to steal customer information by installing a skimming device — a 1-inch plastic lip that attached to the ATM card slots — as well as hidden cameras that recorded PIN numbers.
The thefts took place over a five-day period in January of this year within a one-mile radius of Union Square, a public thoroughfare in the Manhattan district of New York City and the spree involved 11 different ATM machines at four Chase branches.
According to the reports, they managed to steal more than a quarter of a million dollars from approximately 1,500 people. The men as well made more attempts to target the ATM’s, collecting more than $264,000 in fraud the first time and $20,000 the second time, which they used in Canada, Arizona and Illinois. The two brothers were caught on May 24th when they tried to remove the skimming device and were arrested on 785 Broadway. Much of the money has been reported as having been wire transferred using Western Union to Bulgaria, where the three men are from.
A Chase spokesperson has said that the bank reimburses losses caused by fraud. Approximately 15 people were caught and arrested for skimming in Manhattan this year.
Some ways to protect yourself from skimming are:
- Cover the ATM number pad with your hand when entering your pin number.
- Make sure nobody is standing behind your or loitering in the area.
- Do not use an ATM machine that looks suspicious and report it to the institution.
- Do not let a shop employee swipe your card out of your sight.
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