ATM skimming suspect pleads guilty

A New York man Tuesday admitted his role in an ATM skimming scheme that targeted local residents.

Moises Morales Cano, 31, of Astoria, N.Y., pleaded guilty in federal court in Providence, R.I., to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Rhode Island.

The investigation revealed that skimming devices were used at ATMs in Norwalk, Ridgefield and Wilton in April 2015, according to a tweet from the U.S. attorney for Connecticut.

According to the U.S. attorney for Rhode Island, the scheme resulted in the theft of personal information skimmed from debit cards belonging to more than 1,300 individuals and the loss of more than $709,000.

Appearing before U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell Jr., Cano admitted to the court that between Jan. 1 and April 4, 2015, he conspired with another individual to attach skimming devices on ATMs at banks in several communities in Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Court records released by the Department of Justice indicate that 1,329 individuals had their debit cards compromised, losing $709,597.50.

An ATM skimming device is a technology that directly attaches to an ATM in order to intercept unknowing customers’ debit card information from the magnetic strip on ATM cards. The stolen information and PINs are downloaded and re-encoded onto counterfeit debit cards. The counterfeit debit cards are used to make fraudulent transactions from the accounts of unknowing victims.

Cano’s guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha, Ted A. Arruda, resident agent in charge of the Providence office of the U.S. Secret Service, and Warwick police Chief Col. Stephen M. McCartney.

Cano has been detained in federal custody since his arrest in Queens, N.Y., on Sept. 9, 2015. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 20, 2016.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee H. Vilker.

The matter was investigated by the United States Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Warwick Police Department, with the assistance of the Smithfield, East Providence, Cranston, and Johnston police departments.

Wilton police reported in June 2015 they were investigating a skimming device found at the automatic teller machine outside the Fairfield County Bank.

While police could not say with certainty that their June investigation was related to the federal investigation of Cano, they did confirm it had been turned over to federal agents, and added that this was likely “not a coincidence.”