FBI arrests 3 alleged ATM crooks, pursue 3 suspects
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Six men are facing federal charges for their alleged involvement in a debit card skimming operation that targeted ATM machines across Florida.
Federal agents and police arrested three of the six suspects on Friday during a raid at a vacant home on the west side of Fort Lauderdale, on Route 441, where the men and their families were squatting. They were charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The other three suspects remain at large.
Prosecutors said the men, Romanian immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally across the Mexican border, installed card reader devices and hidden cameras at 18 bank branches across the state between between Nov. 4 and Feb. 17.
The skimmers recorded the users' debit card information, and the cameras captured their PIN codes. The suspects then made counterfeit ATM cars with the victims' account details imprinted in the magnetic strip. The alleged robbers acquired data from 407 customers that they used to withdraw money and make purchases.
Among the local cities targeted by the skimming gang are Bal Harbour, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and Plantation.
According to a State Attorney's Office news release, the three suspects who have not been apprehended are Neamtu Vaduva, 21, Alin Velcu, 24, and Antonio Dumitru, 19.
Neighbors who knew the suspects were shocked at the charges. "They were a very good family, though it looked to me like they didn't know how to handle themselves in the United States," said Dr. Allan Mink. "It's just a shame because the kids, the young ones, were as nice as can be," he continued.
Mink added that the three suspects who were arrested on Friday left a signal that he believes warned their accomplices. "Right after they took them, they put a black blanket out the window. I saw two cars slow down, and then when [the drivers] saw the black blanket hanging out the window, they kept going," he said.
If you know the whereabouts of the the three suspects wanted in connection with these crimes, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.
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