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Fraudster Pleads Guilty After Helping Steal More Than $400,000 From ATMs

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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A New York man pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud Tuesday after participating in a complex ATM “skimming” ring, which stole at least $428,581.

The fraudsters used secret card-reading devices and “pinhole cameras” on Bank of America and PNC bank ATMs between March 2015 and July 2016, according to a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) press release. “Skimming” devices can record customer information encoded on the magnetic strips of cards. They are usually installed without the banks or customers’ knowledge and are fairly imperceptible.

Joel Abel Garcia, a 35-year-old U.S. citizen from the Bronx, is the third of 13 defendants charged so far who have pleaded guilty. Victor Hanganu and Radu Marin, Romanian citizens living in New York, both pleaded guilty to the same charges in the past few weeks.

After surreptitiously obtaining customer information, like PIN codes, the perpetrators would create counterfeit ATM cards and withdraw cash from various ATMs in New Jersey.

The charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud carries a maximum potential sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. (RELATED: Man Allegedly Dupes Companies Into Wiring Him $100 Million)

At least 10 law enforcement and banking entities helped investigate and prosecute the scam artists.

Sentencing for Garcia is set for August 2.

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