U.S. Attorney Honors Citizen Whose Quick Action Lead To Dismantling Of ATM ‘Skimming’ Ring
Citizen 9-1-1 Call, Plus Quick Action by Bothell Police Key Break in Case
U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan today honored a Snohomish County woman whose quick call to police lead to the arrest and ultimately the dismantling of a prolific ATM ‘skimming’ ring. As part of a national week recognizing crime victims and the witnesses and professionals who work with victims in the criminal justice system, U.S. Attorney Durkan thanked those involved with bringing down the skimming ring.
“As a victim of skimming, I know the mix of anger, frustration and helplessness you feel when you discover someone has raided your bank account,” said U.S. Attorney Durkan. “While I was victimized by a different theft ring, I know the quick work in this case saved many other people from becoming victims, and helped bring the defendants to justice.”
In early December 2010 at the Canyon Park shopping center in Bothell, a young woman from Snohomish County noticed two men withdrawing large amounts of cash from an ATM machine. She was concerned and called 9-1-1, reporting the activity and providing the license plate of the car one of the men was driving. Three Bothell Police detectives were on their lunch break in the shopping mall. They too observed some suspicious activity. Responding officers arrested one suspect in the car the witness had reported. The second suspect was arrested by the detectives as he attempted to get out of the area on foot. The initial investigation determined both men were Romanian nationals in the U.S. illegally, and recovered evidence of their skimming activity.
Ultimately, these arrests lead to the leaders of the ring. In September 2011, the Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force executed search warrants and arrested ISMAIL SALI at the Kirkland home that was a hub for the skimming activity. At the home police found documents tying SALI to defendants previously arrested and prosecuted for skimming activity. This ring accounted for more than a million dollars in losses to banks and consumers. Throughout the course of the investigation, authorities seized forms for making card skimmers, fake face plates for ATM machines, gift cards and electronic equipment for encoding stolen account data onto the cards.
The crime ring was truly global in scale, sometimes using card information stolen in Europe to commit fraud here. However, the key break in dismantling the ring came when one person noticed something was wrong, and cared enough to report it. That lead to the arrest of the suspects in Canyon Park, which allowed investigators to further trace their associates and activities.
The citizen who called 9-1-1 prefers that her name remain confidential. The three Bothell detectives being honored today are Michael Stone, Ryan Odegaard and Jon Caban.
Joining U.S. Attorney Durkan in thanking the citizen and the Bothell Detectives are members of the Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force, and Bothell Police Chief Carol Cummings.
The skimming cases were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Norman Barbosa and Steven Masada.