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3 arrested in Oceanside skimming-device probe, police say

Costel Ionita, 40, left, and Popescu Constantin, 34,

Costel Ionita, 40, left, and Popescu Constantin, 34, of Brooklyn, were charged in connection with placing a skimming device in the Ocean Financial Federal Credit Union in Oceanside on Sept. 20, 2017, Nassau police said. Alexandru Panzaru, 29, was also arrested but his photo was not made available. Credit: NCPD

Three Brooklyn men were arrested and charged with possession of a forgery device after authorities found a skimming device with a pinhole camera attached to a credit union ATM in Oceanside — and used live surveillance to turn the tables on the trio.

Costel Ionita, 40, Alexandru Panzaru, 29, and Popescu Constantin, 34, who have no known addresses, were taken into custody about 4 p.m. Wednesday after they removed the skimmer and camera from the ATM at the Ocean Financial Federal Credit Union on Atlantic Avenue, Nassau County police said.

The three were charged with two counts of possession of a forgery device, police said, while Ionita and Panzaru also face resisting arrest charges. Additionally, Panzaru was charged with two counts of second-degree possession of a forged instrument and two counts of possession of burglary tools.

All three men are scheduled for arraignment Thursday in First District Court in Hempstead.

Police said that Robbery Fraud and Forgery Squad detectives were alerted to the scheme after the manager notified police that the skimmer device had been discovered on an ATM at the credit union’s main branch. Detectives then decided to turn the tables on the unsuspecting culprits by setting up surveillance — complete with a live feed via the ATM — to monitor the machine for the return of any suspects. Within a few hours, police said, the men returned to the ATM and removed the device.

The three were then arrested with the help of Robbery Squad and Fourth Squad detectives, who recovered the skimmer and camera at the scene, police said. Despite the skimming device being in place, no accounts were compromised, police said.

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