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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Seven Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Crimes Related To ATM Skimming And Counterfeit And Stolen Credit Cards

Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Diego Rodriguez, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and William J. Bratton, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced today the unsealing of an Indictment in Manhattan federal court charging GJETO PRELAJ, a/k/a “Bibi,” ERBI KAU, a/k/a “Mafia,” BLEDAR BATSKA, a/k/a “Alex,” NIKOLIN DEDUSHI, a/k/a “Niko,” ENIS MUSTAFA, and MEHMET BOGIC, a/k/a “Bogi,” with access device fraud and aggravated identity theft for their alleged roles in schemes to steal customer bank account information and to use counterfeit/stolen debit and credit cards in New York and Nevada.  PRELAJ, KAU, BATSKA, DEDUSHI, and VICTOR TOMESCU were also charged with possessing, using, and trafficking devices that used “skimming” technology to secretly record the debit card and personal identification numbers of customers who used automated teller machines (“ATMs”).  Such devices can be employed to steal hundreds of card numbers of ATM users, which can be encoded on new counterfeit cards and used to make thousands of dollars of fraudulent charges or withdrawals. 

All the defendants were arrested and taken into custody earlier this morning.  The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan.  PRELAJ, KAU, BATSKA, MUSTAFA, TOMESCU, and BOGIC was presented before Judge Sullivan in Manhattan federal court this afternoon.  DEDUSHI, who was arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada, was presented in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada in Las Vegas.            

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “Today, we arrested seven defendants who allegedly stole debit and credit card numbers using sophisticated skimming devices installed on ATMs, and then used that information to defraud victims out of thousands of dollars.  I want to thank the FBI, NYPD, as well as the Joint Organized Crime Task Force and FBI-NYPD Financial Cyber Crimes Taskforce, for their excellent work in this investigation.”          

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez said:  “As alleged today, the defendants participated in a plot to steal proprietary financial information from their victims. Criminals who turn a quick profit in these types of schemes exploit and manipulate the very technology we depend on to streamline the banking process.  Furthermore, this system of new-age thievery has the ability to cause considerable losses to banks and their clientele.  The FBI is serious about protecting banks and bank customers from the nefarious actions of cyber criminals and transnational organized crime groups who are known to engage in this type of activity. We urge the public to visit our website at www.fbi.gov for tips on how to avoid being victimized by skimming.”

Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said:  “Identity theft is a crime that often has an ongoing impact on unwitting victims who are left to piece their financial lives back together.  As alleged, the individuals named in this indictment engaged in a type of criminal activity that affects not only their direct victims, but financial systems as well, through the use of skimming device technology and the counterfeiting of credit cards. I commend the well-coordinated work of the investigators assigned to this case and our many law enforcement partners in dismantling this operation.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment[1] unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

From January 2015 through December 2015, PRELAJ, KAU, BATSKA, DEDUSHI, and MUSTAFA conspired to, among other things, place skimming devices on ATMs in Las Vegas, which can be used to surreptitiously record the numbers of cards that are used in the ATM by reading the information contained on the cards’ magnetic strips.  For example, on September 2, 2015, KAU removed a skimming device that was installed on an ATM in a gas station in Las Vegas.  On the morning of September 12, 2015, BATSKA installed at least one skimming device on ATMs in the business center of a hotel in Las Vegas, which was later removed by KAU on the evening of the same day.

The conspiracy also involved producing and trafficking in counterfeit debit cards created with information stolen by skimming devices, and using those cards to withdraw money fraudulently from victims’ bank accounts.  For example, on August 18, 2015, PRELAJ and KAU used counterfeit debit cards at an ATM in Manhattan.  Also, on September 10, 2015, MUSTAFA used at least one counterfeit debit card to withdraw almost $1,000 in cash fraudulently from an ATM at a gas station in Las Vegas.  In addition, on October 24, 2015, DEDUSHI mailed a magnetic card reader and writer from Las Vegas to PRELAJ in the Bronx, New York to be used to produce counterfeit cards.  

In January 2015, PRELAJ and KAU sold a skimming device in Queens, New York, in exchange for $6,000 in a transaction that was brokered by TOMESCU.  Furthermore, from November 2015 through December 2015, PRELAJ and BATSKA fraudulently obtained thousands of dollars of merchandise at department stores in Manhattan by using at least one credit card that had been stolen from a victim by BOGIC.

Finally, PRELAJ, KAU, BATSKA, DEDUSHI, MUSTAFA, and BOGIC were charged with aggravated identity theft for transferring, possessing, and using other persons’ debit and credit card numbers and associated personal identification numbers in connection with the felony crimes described above.

*                *                *

Attached are charts containing the charges against the defendants and the maximum penalties they face, as well as the defendants’ ages and residences.  The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants will be determined by the Court.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the Joint Organized Crime Task Force and FBI-NYPD Financial Cyber Crimes Task Force.  He also thanked the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for their assistance throughout the investigation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Robert Allen and Sagar K. Ravi are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty

###

United States v. Gjeto Prelaj, et al.

 

COUNT

CHARGE

DEFENDANTS

MAXIMUM PENALTIES

1

Conspiracy to Commit Access Device Fraud

(18 U.S.C. § 1029(b)(2))

GJETO PRELAJ, a/k/a “Bibi”

ERBI KAU, a/k/a “Mafia”

BLEDAR BATSKA, a/k/a “Alex”

NIKOLIN DEDUSHI, a/k/a “Niko”

ENIS MUSTAFA

Seven-and-a-half years in prison

2

Access Device Fraud —

Producing, Using, and Trafficking in Counterfeit Access Devices

(18 U.S.C. §§ 1029(a)(1) and 2)

GJETO PRELAJ, a/k/a “Bibi”

ERBI KAU, a/k/a “Mafia”

BLEDAR BATSKA, a/k/a “Alex”

NIKOLIN DEDUSHI, a/k/a “Niko”

ENIS MUSTAFA

10 years in prison

 

3

Access Device Fraud —

Fifteen and More Counterfeit and Unauthorized Access Devices

(18 U.S.C. §§ 1029(a)(3) and 2)

GJETO PRELAJ, a/k/a “Bibi”

ERBI KAU, a/k/a “Mafia”

BLEDAR BATSKA, a/k/a “Alex”

NIKOLIN DEDUSHI, a/k/a “Niko”

10 years in prison

4

Access Device Fraud —

Device-Making Equipment

(18 U.S.C. §§ 1029(a)(4) and 2)

GJETO PRELAJ, a/k/a “Bibi”

ERBI KAU, a/k/a “Mafia”

VICTOR TOMESCU

15 years in prison

5

Access Device Fraud —

Device-Making Equipment

(18 U.S.C. §§ 1029(a)(4) and 2)

GJETO PRELAJ, a/k/a “Bibi”

ERBI KAU, a/k/a “Mafia”

BLEDAR BATSKA, a/k/a “Alex”

NIKOLIN DEDUSHI, a/k/a “Niko”

15 years in prison

6

Access Device Fraud — Access Devices Issued to Another Person

(18 U.S.C. §§ 1029(a)(5) and 2)

GJETO PRELAJ, a/k/a “Bibi”

BLEDAR BATSKA, a/k/a “Alex”

MEHMET BOGIC, a/k/a “Bogi”

15 years in prison

7

Aggravated Identity Theft           (18 U.S.C. §§ 1028A(a)(1) & (b), and 2)

GJETO PRELAJ, a/k/a “Bibi”

ERBI KAU, a/k/a “Mafia”

BLEDAR BATSKA, a/k/a “Alex”

NIKOLIN DEDUSHI, a/k/a “Niko”

ENIS MUSTAFA

MEHMET BOGIC, a/k/a/ “Bogi”

Mandatory minimum: two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence

 

 

 

 

DEFENDANT

RESIDENCE

AGE

GJETO PRELAJ, a/k/a “Bibi”

Bronx, New York

39

ERBI KAU, a/k/a “Mafia”

Queens, New York

27

BLEDAR BATSKA, a/k/a “Alex”

Queens, New York

39

NIKOLIN DEDUSHI, a/k/a “Niko”

Las Vegas, Nevada

45

ENIS MUSTAFA

Queens, New York

30

VICTOR TOMESCU

Queens, New York

62

MEHMET BOGIC, a/k/a/ “Bogi”

Bronx, New York

52

 

 

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

16-026
Updated February 2, 2016