PROVIDENCE – Federal bank and credit card fraud charges have been filed in U.S. District Court in Providence against two individuals who allegedly participated in ATM skimming schemes that defrauded banks in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, announced United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman and Craig A. Marech, Resident Agent in Charge of the Providence Office of the United States Secret Service.
It is alleged in court documents that Rafael Pedro Dutra DaSilva, 29, of Miami, FL, and Guilherme Mendes Altafin, 28, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, collectively accessed bank accounts at nearly a dozen bank branch offices with the use of gift and credit cards activated with stolen personal identifying information, fraudulently obtaining nearly $150,000.
According to court documents, in October 2019, law enforcement in Rhode Island and Massachusetts began receiving reports of a wave of fraudulent activity at bank ATMs. In November 2019, bank managers at an Acushnet, Mass., bank branch office notified police of a series of suspicious ATM transactions. Bank surveillance video showed the same individual as being responsible for many of the suspicious transactions. Acushnet Police established a live-streaming surveillance camera at the ATM, and on November 24, 2019, watched as the same person, later identified as DaSilva, allegedly attempted numerous transactions, completing several of them, repeatedly placing cash retrieved from the ATM inside a satchel he was carrying. He was detained and arrested outside of the bank.
Guilherme Mendes Altafin was arrested on December 10, 2019, shortly after an Acushnet police officer, familiar with the DaSilva investigation, watched as Altafin attempted several transactions, completing at least one of them, at the same ATM where DaSilva was arrested. It is alleged that a bank representative confirmed suspicious transactions, including two withdrawals of $500 each and six declined transactions.
Altafin’s arrest came two weeks after he allegedly was seen by an Acushnet police sergeant entering a New Bedford, Mass., courthouse carrying a bag with what appeared to contain a significant amount of cash on the same day a judge set $25,000 cash bail for DaSilva.
On Thursday, Altafin was ordered detained in federal custody by U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond. DaSilva remains in custody in Massachusetts. His appearance in U.S. District Court in Providence has not yet been scheduled.
A federal criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Terrence P. Donnelly.