Police think group of Romanians behind string of ATM skimmer device fraud cases across South

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PONCHATOULA – Investigators are on the trail of two Romanian men who travel across the south planting skimming devices on ATMs in rural areas after they targeted two ATMs in Tangipahoa Parish. The duo are thought to be a part of a much larger group of Romanian bank fraud suspects. Whitney Bank employees contacted the Ponchatoula Police Department on February 10 to report a skimming device that was found on a Whitney ATM at 545 West Pine Street in Ponchatoula. The device contained a small camera able to capture PIN numbers as they were being entered and associate those numbers with specific cards and accounts, according to the PPD. Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office Financial Crimes Detective Travis Pitman, who had been working several fraud cases believed to be connected to the skimmer, contacted the Ponchatoula Criminal Investigations Division shortly after the investigation began. TPSO officers were also working with the Hammond Police Department to investigate another skimmer device found at the Baton Rouge TELCO Credit Union on University Drive in Hammond. A further collaboration with the Lafayette Police Department led the investigative team to identify two suspects, both Romanian nationals operating out of Houston. Seventeen-year-old Stan Giovani and 23-year-old Ilie Margel are thought to be part of a larger group that operate out of Houston and Miami, according to the PPD. The group targets machines located in rural areas close to Interstate 10 as it runs across the South. Numerous warrants have been obtained for Giovani and Margel, according to the PPD, including three counts of violations of the anti-skimming act and 185 counts each of identity theft, access device fraud, and bank fraud.

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