Brazilian National Pleads Guilty to ATM Skimming
BOSTON – A Brazilian national pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Boston to charges of ATM skimming in towns north of Boston.
Alexandre Kawamura, 43, pleaded guilty to two counts of using counterfeit access devices (debit and credit cards), four counts of possessing device-making equipment (ATM skimming devices and pinhole cameras), and two counts of aggravated identity theft. U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin scheduled sentencing for April 17, 2019. Kawamura, who legally entered the U.S. on a tourist visa, will be subject to deportation after he completes his sentence.
Kawamura placed hidden skimming devices and pinhole cameras on Eastern Bank ATMs in Saugus, Stoneham, Medford, and Everett, every day between February 25 and March 16, 2018, when he was arrested. The purpose of the skimming devices was to record bank account information on the magnetic strips of debit and credit cards that unwitting victims inserted into the ATMs. The purpose of the pinhole cameras was to capture the victims’ PINs as they were entered on the ATM keypads.
On March 8, 2018, Kawamura possessed a counterfeit debit card with a magnetic strip that contained the stolen bank account number of a Milton woman. At an ATM in Malden, Kawamura used the card and the victim’s PIN to withdraw $500 cash from the victim’s account.
On March 16, 2018, Kawamura used a counterfeit credit card to buy clothing at a sporting goods store in Medford. The name on the card was an alias, and the card’s magnetic strip contained the stolen Eastern Bank account number of a Medford man, whose account had been compromised the day before.
Kawamura was arrested on March 16 after a bank customer called police to report that he had found a skimming device on a drive-up ATM at an Eastern Bank branch in Stoneham. Police responded and discovered that the pinhole camera was still attached to the ATM. They set up surveillance and waited for the suspect to return. Kawamura drove up to the ATM in a rental car shortly before 11 pm. He appeared to look for the skimming device and then drove off. Stoneham police stopped the car and discovered that the driver had a Brazilian passport in his real name and had rented the car under an alias. Kawamura was in possession of the counterfeit credit card that he had just used to buy clothing at the sporting goods store.
The charging statute for using a counterfeit access device provides for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of possessing device-making equipment provides for a sentence of no greater than 15 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. The charging statute for aggravated identity theft provides for a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed, up to one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Office, made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Wichers of Lelling’s Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.