Halton police detectives lead investigation and arrests of a gang of ATM skimmers, recover $30,000 cash.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 3, 2012  –  The chiefs all looked a little wooden but it was a great day for the two Halton Regional Police Service detectives who told how, working from a tip, they managed to break wide open a significant gang of organized criminals who were scamming automated banking machines and tucking hundreds of thousands of dollars into their own pockets.

There were representatives from the OPP, Durham, Halton, Toronto and the Canadian Bankers Association - all basking in the glow of some fine police work done by two Detectives

Det.-Constable Dwayne Perron and Det.-Sgt Brad Murray handled most of the questions during the press conference and they clearly had a firm grip on what was done and how it was done.  Cases like this could be career makers for these two officers.   They were the lead players in what was described as one of the larger press conferences the Halton Police have held.

The police displayed a table of currency they had seized when they raided a number of locations including a credit card lab and arrested twelve people who were part of a gang that stole at least $300,000, stolen from customers and banks in Halton and across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Police also seized what they called an impressive collection of electronic devices that were part of a credit card duplication lab set up by the criminals

Halton Detectives Murray and Perron explaining to the media how the ATM skimming operation worked and some details on the investigation they carried out that arrested twelve people.

During a Friday morning press conference at the Oak Walk Drive police station, police displayed around $40,000 seized during the operation and dozens of pieces of equipment, which they said was used to capture and record people’s banking information.

The investigation became active when a financial institution investigator alerted them to the skimming in October 2011.  Police had reason to believe the gang had been operating since about April 2010.

Besides the two detectives who ran the investigation there were representatives from Durham Regional Police, Ontario Provincial Police, Toronto Police, York Regional Police, and the Provincial Asset Forfeiture Unit who were all part of the investigation and collectively executed eight Criminal Code search warrants on residences in Markham, Vaughan and Toronto.

Along with the $40,000 cash police found what they described as a credit card printing lab, instruments used to forge credit cards and numerous fraudulent credit cards.  Three vehicles were also seized.

Halton Police Chief Gary Crowell said: “This particular fraud involved the suspect’s installing illegal skimming devices and hidden video cameras on bank machines and gas station credit card readers, conducting counter surveillance to ensure the devices were not discovered by the public or the police and subsequently removing these devices,”

Police recovered camera equipment, false fronts used on legitimate ATM machines along with small electronic boards that aided in the capture of data. Also seized were a collection of blank bank cards.

“Once the devices were removed by the suspects, the stolen data was then downloaded and compared to hidden camera surveillance that they had obtained, thereby revealing the PINs of the victims’ bank or credit cards. The downloaded data and the PINs were then encoded onto a variety of fraudulent cards.”

Crowell explained that with this information the suspects would then either withdraw money directly from the victims’ accounts or make direct purchases with the fraudulent cards.  During the investigation some of the suspects were caught on surveillance tapes when they installed the devices.

Police estimate the suspects compromised 280 bank machines and around 10 gas station credit card readers across the GTA.  Det.-Constable Dwayne Perron said 35 incidents of this fraud took place in Halton, where only ATMs were targeted.  Police believe the suspects involved in these incidents are part of two separate criminal organizations who shared one credit card lab.

Charged with fraud over $5,000, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, and participation in a criminal organization are: Dmitri Chalenko, 28, Dennis Glukhov, 31, Viacheslav Glukhov, 31, Vadim Glukhov, 53, Alla Glukhov, 53, and Matvey Tchirkov, 29, all of Vaughan; Makar Tchirkov, 24, Rishan Thayalachelvam, 29, and Geevan Negendran, 32, all of Markham; and Janesmathan Vilvarajah, 22, of Toronto.

Charged with fraud over $5,000, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, participation in a criminal organization, two counts of possession of instruments for use in forging credit cards and two counts of possession of credit card data are: Viatcheslav Shevelev, 27, and Maksym Gaiderov, 22, both of Toronto.

A representative from the Canadian Bankers Association told the press that this kind of skimming ATM`s was on the decline nationally and that the newer `chip and pin`cards were making it harder for thieves to get at the data on the cards.  He explained that banks lose more than half a billion dollars a year on this kind of theft and that banks reimburse customers whose accounts are compromised.

Halton Regional Police Chief Gary Crowell advised residents to put their hand over the keypad of the ATM machine and to stand close to the screen to avoid being skimmed by hidden cameras.

Chief Crowell recommended people use their hand and body to conceal the keypad when entering their PIN, to check ATMs to make sure card slots all look the same, be suspicious of signs directing them to use a particular ATM, review their credit card and bank account statements regularly and contact their financial institution immediately if unknown transactions or withdrawals are present.

The banks, through a co-ordinated effort with the Canadian Bankers Association are constantly surveying transaction on the Interac network and when they spot something that seems out of the ordinary they will give clients a call and ask if they completed a particular transaction.

This reporter got two calls from the bank during the period of time this investigation was taking place.  Out of the house when the calls came in I was surprised to hear the answering machine tell me that the amount available to me for withdrawal had been reduced to $1.00 and would I call the bank immediately.  I live off that bank card – so I called quickly and was instructed to go to the nearest branch of my bank with my bank card, that was now no longer valid, and have two pieces of photo identification.  Arrived at the bank – they took the old card issued me a new card and said my withdrawal level was back where it has been.

What if that call had come in on a weekend?  I know which gas station I used that card at and I`ll be watching.



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