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New York ATM skimmer gets three years behind bars

A NYC ATM skimmer was sentenced to three years in prison.
A NYC ATM skimmer was sentenced to three years in prison.

While the United States still uses magnetic stripe technology on debit and credit cards, ATM skimming is still a reality that needs to be addressed. For example, Nikolai Ivanov, 31, has been sentenced to at least three years in prison for identity theft and fraud by skimming ATM machines set up in Union Square and Astor Place in New York City, according to the New York Post.

According to prosecutors, Ivanov was operating with his brother Jordan, who is at large and believed to be hiding out in Canada. The two Bulgarians managed to scam nearly 1,500 debit cards and steal more than $180,000.

The two would approach ATM machines as customers and use a double-sided tape to stick the pinhole cameras and skimming devices onto the machines. These were also spray painted silver to match the color of the ATM.

Once the skimmers were on, they would be left there for roughly four to six hours at a time, usually during the day. The brothers would then pass the card information onto an anonymous conspirator who would encode blank cards that were used for purchases and cash withdrawals in Arizona, Illinois and Canada.

The banks that were operating the machines were able to spot the culprits using surveillance footage and alerted the police, who staked out at a compromised machine and were able to arrest Ivanov and an accomplice, Dimitar Stamatov – a limo driver – after they removed the devices and loaded them into a car.

"Unless you were an expert, the skimmer was virtually undetectable," said Ivanov's lawyer, Renee Median, to the source after the trial.

If owners or operators of an ATM machine wish to better protect their investment and customers, they may also want to consider the use of security cameras as well as placing the ATM in a well-lit location that can be seen by administrators or others involved in the care or maintenance of the machine. 

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