A 49-year-old San Diego County resident, Daniel Axinte, was arraigned in San Diego Superior Court on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 on 45 charges of identity theft and felony burglary using scanning equipment and customer surveillance video cameras at a Chase bank ATM machine, according to reports by KUSI-TV, KFMB-TV, KSWB Fox5 San Diego, Identity Theft Manifesto, Utica College CIMIP, the North County Times, and other media sources published on Wednesday, July 27, 2011.
The alleged scheme is said to have compromised 970 ATM debit cards and netted Mr. Axinte over $200,000, according to San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
Mr. Axinte is alleged to have installed a duplicate bogus credit card scanner on an access door to the ATM at 13275 Black Mountain Road in Rancho Penasquitos on at least six weekends, and then secretly video taped customers entering their security codes with a hidden camera located above the keypad of the machine.
According to the charges, he carried out his plans by quickly installing his devices, and then returning later to remove them, extract the information collected, imprinting it on blank bank cards, and then accessing the same ATM machine to withdraw various amounts of money, usually $500, but as high as $1,000 on some transactions.
The thefts were not detected until numerous bank customers had complained about cash missing from their accounts. One customer had to have his ATM card replaced three times.
Mr. Axinte was said to have followed a predictable routine which was recorded by Chase bank’s own security cameras, enabling investigators from the San Diego Regional Fraud Task Force to stake out the facility and arrest the suspect while in the act of committing his crime, as shown in the attached slide show.
There is also a video clip which accompanies this report detailing other cases of credit card fraud.
The District Attorney characterized the plan as preying on innocent customers, saying “This brazen crime is a twist on debit card skimming, perpetrated by an ID thief who wasn’t afraid to repeat his crime over and over at the same location. Bank customers had no idea their personal information was being compromised. But this latest crime should remind San Diegans how important it is to protect their personal financial information as best they can.”
Scott Christensen of the U.S. Secret Service advised customers to inspect an ATM machine before using it for any suspicious signs of tampering, and to always shield the keypad with their other hand when they enter their PIN numbers.
Mr. Axinte, booking number 11154982, weighs 185 pounds and is 5 feet 8 inches tall according to the sheriff’s department inmate detail data base, was born on May 14, 1962, and appeared sullen during his court appearance. He is being held at the George Bailey Detention Facility (GBDF) in Otay Mesa, with bail set at $1,000,000, and faces more than 20 years in prison if convicted.
A readiness conference on his case number CD235651 is scheduled for Friday, August 5, 2011 at 8:15 a.m. PDT in the Central Division Courthouse located at 220 West Broadway in downtown San Diego.
According to the Center for Identity Management and Information Protection (CIMIP) at Utica College, in the United States, identity theft became a federal crime on October 30, 1998 through the enactment of the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, 18 USC §1028 (a) (7).
This Act states that identity theft occurs when a person “Knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law.”
The law also provides the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with authority to track the number of incidents and the dollar value of losses.
According to one identity theft web site, 15 million United States residents have their identities used fraudulently each year with financial losses totalling upwards of $50 billion.
The Javelin Strategy & Research Center cites a lower number, almost 10 million victims in 2008, a 22% increase from 2007. The average cost per victim is $500, but most pay nothing due to zero-liability fraud protection programs offered by their financial institutions. Credit car fraud accounts for 26% of total identity theft crimes.
Invented by IBM, the first ATM was introduced in December 1972 at Lloyds Bank in the UK. It is estimated that there are over 1.8 million ATM machines in use throughout the world.
An August 24, 2009 article in Wired Magazine claims that there are about 403,000 cash machines in the U.S., with 239 new ATM machines installed daily worldwide. While credit cards have gained in popularity, cash is still used in 85% of all retail transactions.
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