Four Quebec Men Charged In Fraud Scheme Involving Burlington Area ATMs
The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that four Quebec men were arrested on October 24, 2016 in connection with an investigation into their involvement in a fraud scheme in which the men received cash advances on access devices using compromised account information. Mathieu Baaklini, 21, of Laval, Quebec; Safwan Bensalma, 21, of Laval, Quebec; Brandon Lo, 24, of Laval, Quebec; and Nicolau Manfredi, 21, of Montreal were charged by Criminal Complaint with conspiracy to use access devices fraudulently resulting in the receipt of more than $1,000 in cash. The men appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy in Burlington on October 25, 2016 for an initial appearance. If convicted, the men face a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.
According to court records, at various times between March and October 2016, the four men traveled from Quebec to Burlington, Vermont, where they used NBT Bank ATM machines in Burlington and Essex to obtain cash advances on cards using stolen account information from Canadian accountholders. ATM transaction records and bank surveillance video shows that on May 24, 2016, approximately $8,800 in cash advances were withdrawn using suspected fraudulent credit cards. Records further show that on May 25, 2016, one of the charged conspirators made $11,000 in wire transfers from Chittenden and Franklin Counties, Vermont to locations in Quebec. ATM transaction records and bank surveillance video further shows that between August 22-25, 2016, NBT Bank incurred approximately $54,000 in suspected fraud activity in the form of 500 suspected cash advances on Canadian and European credit and debit cards.
On October 21, 2016, federal agents executed a search warrant on a storage unit in Williston, Vermont, where they recovered approximately $33,000 in cash, a laptop computer, a card-reading device, and approximately 378 gift cards with markings indicating that they contained bank account information on them.
The men were arrested by Department of Homeland Security Agents at the Highgate Springs, Vermont Port of Entry as they attempted to enter the United States.
The Criminal Complaint is an accusation only and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. In the event of a conviction, their sentences will be advised by the federal Sentencing Guidelines.
Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are conducting the investigation into this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin J. Doyle is handling the prosecution. Baaklini is represented by Maryanne Kampmann, Esq. Bensalma is represented by Craig S. Nolan, Esq. Lo is represented by Chandler W. Matson, Esq. Manfredi is represented by Douglas G. Kallen, Esq.