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Queens Chronicle

Four arrested in LIRR card skimming

Elmhurst apt. raid yields ‘thousands’ of stolen credit, debit card numbers

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Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013 10:30 am

Four Romanian nationals, including two men from Elmhurst, have been arrested in connection with the alleged theft of thousands of credit card numbers used at Long Island Rail Road ticket vending machines.

Niculae Peter, 45, and Dorin Husa, 37, of Elmhurst, were arrested last week by Nassau County and Metropolitan Transportation Authority police after search warrants were executed at their Elmhurst apartment.

They have been charged by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown with second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, criminal possession of forgery devices and second-degree unlawful possession of personal identification information.

A married couple, Valer Zaharia, 38, and his wife, Teodora Zaharia, 27, whose residence was unavailable, were arrested last week at the LIRR’s Sea Cliff station on charges of second-degree identity theft, criminal possession of forgery devices and second-degree unlawful possession of a skimmer device.

All four face up to seven years in prison and deportation if convicted, according to a statement issued by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.

The group is accused of affixing pinhole cameras and credit card skimmers to LIRR ticket vending machines at stations in Bayside, Great Neck, Sea Cliff, Merillon Avenue in Mineola and Greenvale.

Cameras and skimmers also have been found on Metro-North machines in Westchester, and the investigation is continuing.

The cameras were hidden in metal strips custom-molded to look like a standard part of the ticket machines, and were placed to capture PIN numbers while skimmers put over the card insertion slots captured information from the cards’ magnetic strips.

Rice’s statement said the Elmhurst apartment “appeared to be a virtual factory for creating materials to steal bank card information and use it to steal money from people’s bank accounts.”

Search warrants allegedly turned up thousands of stolen credit and debit card numbers, cameras, skimmers, plastic molds, flash drives, computers, cash and credit cards.

A safe taken from the apartment contained hundreds of gift cards and other magnetic cards recoded with stolen account numbers, as well as a machine that reads and writes new cards, the authorities said.

MTA and Nassau County police are working with the U.S. Secret Service to examine the seized items in an effort to determine the full scope of the operation.

In the statement issued by Rice’s office, commuters are being asked to check their bank statements to see if they have been victims of fraud. Those who discover suspicious activity are asked to contact the MTA Police Department at (718) 361-2201.

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