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6 charged with stealing 0,000 using card readers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island
6 charged with stealing 0,000 using card readers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island

The suspects are accused of placing skimmers at a self-checkout lane at a Walmart in Pennsylvania. U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Rhode Island

Six Europeans living in the United States illegally are facing charges for placing card readers in dozens of stores and ATMs in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and four other states, officials said. The group is believed to have withdrawn more than $300,000 from hacked bank accounts.

Four of the defendants, who live in California, appeared in federal court in Rhode Island on Tuesday. A fifth person will be extradited to Rhode Island and an arrest warrant has been issued for the sixth person involved, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The members of the alleged theft ring are from Ireland, Romania and Great Britain.

Where were the skimmers placed?

According to federal prosecutors, the investigation into the skimmers began last fall when police in Bristol, Rhode Island, were notified of a skimmer placed at a bank’s drive-in ATM.

Subsequent investigations by the Department of Homeland Security found that at least one member of the theft ring allegedly placed skimming devices in BJ’s Wholesale Clubs and Walmarts in Warwick, Johnston and Coventry, Rhode Island, as well as in Avon, Raynham, Seekonk and Walpole, Massachusetts. In total, 22 skimming devices were found in BJ’s stores in Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Skimmers were also discovered at two banks in Westerly, Rhode Island. In December, an elderly couple discovered that $25,000 had been fraudulently withdrawn from both accounts, according to the HSI investigation report. In total, $279,250 was withdrawn from various Westerly Community Credit Union ATMs, affecting 44 accounts, officials said.

Allegedly, one or more of the six accused were caught on surveillance cameras tampering with the cash registers between September and December last year.

“The magnitude, scope and audacity of these defendants’ plan to steal unsuspecting consumers’ bank account information and use it to appropriate money and property is staggering, as we have alleged in federal court,” U.S. Attorney Zachary Cunha said in a statement.

Four Faces Judge in Rhode Island

Armando Ion Condreanu, 23, of Ireland, is charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Isabela Ignat Codreanu, 23, of Romania, Robby Viscon Codreanu, 20, of the United Kingdom, and Mila Ciuciu, 20, of Romania, are each charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud.

Nicolas Longin Codreanu, 21, of Romania and Ireland, is in the custody of U.S. Marshals and is charged in Rhode Island with conspiracy to commit access device fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Ionut Zamfir, 37, of Romania, faces the same charges but has not been caught.

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By Aurora