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6 accused of stealing $300,000 with skimming devices in Massachusetts, 5 other states

Group accused of stealing $300,000 with skimming devices in Massachusetts, other states
Group accused of stealing $300,000 with skimming devices in Massachusetts, other states 02:19

PROVIDENCE, RI - Four of six foreign nationals have been charged in federal court for allegedly installing "skimming" devices on ATMs and at store checkouts in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and at least four other states.

Isabela Ignat Codreanu, 23, of Anaheim and Placentia, California, a citizen of Romania, Robby Vicson Codreanu, 20, of Placentia, California, a citizen of Great Britain, and Mila Ciuciu, 20, of Placentia, California, a citizen of Romania, are each charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud.

Armando Ion Condreanu, 23, of Placentia, California, a citizen of Ireland, is scheduled to make his initial appearance in court. Another suspect, Nicolas Longin Codreanu, 21, of Placentia, California, a citizen of Romania and Ireland, is in the custody of U.S. Marshals. 

An arrest warrant has been issued for a sixth defendant, Ionut Zamfir, 37, of Los Angeles, California, a citizen of Romania.

Skimming suspects
Surveillance video shows suspects allegedly installing skimmer at store checkout CBS Boston

Investigators said the group used devices that magnetically steal bank card information. They allegedly used that information to create counterfeit cards to fraudulently obtain money.

"At this point in the investigation, we've identified at least $300,000 in losses that resulted from this conduct. There were also instances which some of the information that was taken was federal benefit information," said Zachary Cunha, the U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island.

Skimmers found at 22 BJ's Wholesale Clubs

The investigation started last fall when police in Bristol, Rhode Island found a skimmer on an ATM. It then got larger when investigators heard reports of skimmers at BJ's Wholesale Clubs in Rhode Island and Seekonk and at Walmarts in Walpole, Avon, and Raynham.

BJ's Wholesale Clubs told law enforcement that skimmers were found at 22 of their locations as far away as Virginia, Maryland, New York, and New Jersey. Security footage and Department of Homeland and Security records were used to identify the suspects.

Four of them are in the country illegally and one outstayed the length of their visa. Two of the suspects were also arrested for similar charges in California and Tennessee.

Police urge vigilance by customers  

The U.S. Attorney and local law enforcement say these cases can be difficult to investigate and the best defense against skimmers is vigilance by customers.

"Some of the skimming devices that were placed on the card readers at large national retailers look very much like an actual card reader and so you really have to be careful when you're checking out," Cunha said.

Mansfield Police are also investigating a recent skimming incident. Police Chief Ronald Sellon said ATM users can protect themselves with some simple measures.

"Often times there's a small pin hole camera that they install above the keypad, so I would recommend that whenever you're entering our keypad, always cover your hand," Sellon said.

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