Man charged with counterfeit card use at Darien ATMs
Updated 8:33 pm, Monday, November 3, 2014
A Bronx, N.Y., man has been charged with using counterfeit debit and credit cards to withdraw more than $1,000 from ATMs in Darien during September, police said.
Mario Pena, 22, was taken into custody Oct. 27 at Logan Airport in Boston as he was returning from the Dominican Republic, police said. Darien officers picked up Pena last Friday and, after he waived extradition, brought him back to the state to face charges.
Police anticipate arresting another man they said is Pena's accomplice in the counterfeiting scheme.
Pena's arrest came after JPMorgan Chase Bank contacted Darien police to report that two suspects had used fake cards at ATMs in town and then went to Fairfield. Bank security personnel notified Fairfield police and Pena and his partner were stopped at a People's United Bank ATM, according to police.
They were found with 34 counterfeit debit cards, according to police.
Police determined that the debit card numbers and personal information on the counterfeit cards had been obtained by running a "skimmer" at the ATM at JPMorgan Chase Bank in Oradell, N.J., on Sept. 21, 2014, according to the report.
Skimmers are used by criminals to obtain the personal information of people utilizing an ATM. A skimmer device is placed on the outside of am ATM and as the customer inserts a card into the ATM it is read by the skimmer, which records the information on the customer's card.
In this case, the suspects used that illegally collected data to make counterfeit cards by placing magnetic strips with the stolen information on blanks cards, police said. The method for obtaining the pin numbers is unknown in this case, police said.
The skimmer had been on this particular ATM for approximately 15 hours, according to police.
On Sept. 22, from 10:23 p.m. to 11:34 p.m., Pena and his accomplice attempted a total of 42 withdrawals from the ATM at JPMorgan Chase Bank on Noroton Avenue, and from the ATM at Citibank on Heights Road, police said. They were able to withdraw a total of $1,220 from 13 compromised accounts, according to police.
On Oct. 3, two arrest warrants were issued for Pena and the accomplice, identified as Mirko Martinelli, charging them with multiple counts of larceny and credit card fraud from an ATM stemming from the Darien incident. A $50,000 court set bond was requested and granted. Extradition from surrounding states and New Jersey was also granted.
After Pena was brought back to Connecticut, he was charged with 42 counts of fraudulent use of an ATM, 42 counts of use of a counterfeit credit card, 24 counts of third-degree identity theft, and 24 counts of conspiracy to third-degree identity theft.
Pena was held on a $150,000 bond and was arraigned in court Monday.