As prolific as the drug trade was in Manhattan and all of New York City from the 1970s through the 1990s, Identity Theft has easily surpassed it. In fact, Identity Theft and related crimes have crept into almost every business – private and public – well beyond the offices and apartments of Gotham. Arguably, Identity Theft, in terms of the volume of crimes perpetrated and the associated damages, makes almost every other offense in the New York Penal Law seem pedestrian. Case in point, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance just unsealed an 81 count indictment against Nikolai Ivanov, Dimitar Stamatov and Iordan Ivanov for allegedly committing a fairly common and easy to execute scheme. Although this indictment is “insignificant” when compared to the Queens District Attorney’s Office’s indictment of over 100 people in a multi-million dollar Identity Theft scheme, It is alleged that N. Ivanov, Stamatov and I. Ivanov scammed as many as 1500 people by placing skimming devices and disguised cameras on ATMs early this year. These ATM machines, located in Astor Place, Union Square and the East Village, were treasure troves of personal information that prosecutors claim were used to help the defendants steal nearly $300,000.
The alleged debit card skimming scheme, one that is routinely perpetrated throughout New York and other cities and states, was fairly easy to pull off. It is claimed that the defendants placed devices on the “mouth” or access point where a customer would slide his or her debit card into an ATM machine. As the customer conducted his or her regular business, a hidden video camera pointed at the keypad recorded the PIN number or code used to access the bank accounts. With this information, the defendant’s then allegedly accessed the bank accounts at different locations in New York, Canada and other states. It is alleged by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office that the defendants placed eleven different skimming devices at four separate Manhattan ATM locations. Ultimately, however, it is alleged that one of the Ivanov brothers, along with Stamatov, was arrested in May when he attempted to retrieve one of the skimming devices in Manhattan.
Make no mistake. Each of these defendants faces significant charges relating to their alleged actions. These crimes include Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Identity Theft in the First Degree, Burglary in the Third Degree, Criminal Possession of Forgery Devices, Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Larceny in the Fourth Degree, and Petit Larceny. Other than Petit Larceny, these crimes range from a “C” felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison to “D” and “E” felonies punishable by up to seven and four years in prison respectively.
It appears from the press release that evidence against the defendants is both direct and circumstantial. Obviously, if true, detectives arrested the defendants with or as they were retrieving skimming devices. Certainly, it is possible that these devices had already recorded account information. Furthermore, there may have been recordings from surveillance videos at points of compromise or withdrawal locations. Additionally, prosecutors may link compromised accounts to other accounts that were accessed at ATMs during the same date and times. Only a fraction of potential evidence, if the defendants admitted to the criminal actions it would further strengthen the prosecution’s case. What will happen to these defendants and the defensive strategy they implement is yet to be seen, but will likely play out over the next few weeks and months.
To learn more about the Identity Theft, Grand Larceny, Criminal Possession of Forgery Devices and Burglary, review the Saland Law PC website where each of these crimes is analyzed. Further relevant and practical information on these crimes can be found throughout the NewYorkCriminalLawyerBlog.Com where statutes, legal decisions and cases in the news are assessed.
Additional resources for New York larceny crimes can be found at the NewYorkTheftAndLarcenyLawyers.Com website and NewYorkTheftAndLarcenyLawyersBlog.Com going “live” by the end of November 2011.
Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors. Representing the accused throughout the New York City region, one of our founding New York criminal lawyers, Jeremy Saland, served in the Identity Theft Unit Major Case Section.