Arrest made in bank card ATM skimming case

Marian Serban, 43, has been charged with grand Marian Serban, 43, has been charged with grand larceny and multiple counts of identity theft in connection with a skimming device and camera found at two banks, Suffolk County police said. (June 12, 2013) Photo Credit: SCPD

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A Romanian citizen was arrested Wednesday and charged with using sophisticated devices to steal almost $10,000 from 13 ATM customers in Huntington Station, Suffolk police said.

Marian Serban, 43, was charged with grand larceny and multiple counts of identity theft.

Det. Sgt. Mark Pulaski, commanding officer of the Identity Theft Section, said, "It used to be someone would go into a bank with a mask and a gun. Now it's done this way."

Pulaski said Serban was first arrested March 13 and charged with placing a skimming device and pinhole video camera that day at the Astoria Federal Savings bank at 33 Main St., Kings Park.

He was also charged Wednesday with using similar devices to take $9,700 from victims at the Astoria Federal Savings bank, 320 Walt Whitman Rd., Huntington Station on March 10, as well as with accessing the financial information for 25 different bank accounts.

The way the skimming works, Pulaski said, a sophisticated device is placed over the scanner that unlocks the door permitting the customer to enter the ATM area after regular bank hours.

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"But not only did it get read by the bank to allow you into the vestibule, it got read by" scammers," Pulaski said.

Serban also had a tiny camera installed in the ATM vestibule area to record the customer entering a PIN into the ATM, he said.

Pulaski said the investigation has not ended with Serban's arrest. "We feel he may be part of a larger group that's doing this," Pulaski said. "There's actually millions of dollars lost this way in the United States each year."

"If you ever want to protect yourself, use something like a Starbucks card" to get into the bank's ATM area, Pulaski said. "And when I'm entering my PIN, I put my other hand over when I enter the number."

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