PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s one reason banks encourage you to hide the buttons as you enter your PIN during a transaction: a crook could copy the number on your debit card and use it, along with your PIN, to empty your account.
A Florida man and a Brazilian man are now charged with stealing money from victims’ accounts and defrauding banks in Rhode Island and Massachusetts through ATM skimming schemes, U.S. Attorney Aaron L. Weisman and Providence U.S. Secret Service agent-in-charge Craig A. March announced Friday.
Rafael Pedro Dutra DaSilva, 29, of Miami, and Guilherme Mendes Altafin, 28, of Sao Paulo, are accused of completing multiple transactions at a bank ATM in Acushnet — several that were successful and some that were not — stealing nearly $150,000 in the process.
In October, law enforcement in Rhode Island and Massachusetts first started receiving reports of fraudulent activity at bank ATMs. Then, in November, a bank in Acushnet notified police of several suspicious transactions, and the bank’s surveillance video showed they involved the same man.
Acushnet police set up a live-streaming surveillance camera at the ATM, and while they watched, on Nov. 24, DaSilva allegedly attempted to make multiple transactions in one trip, completing several of them and shoving ill-gotten cash in a satchel. Officers arrested him then and there.
The day a judge set $25,000 cash bail for DaSilva, an Acushnet police sergeant saw Altafin going into a New Bedford courthouse with a bag that appeared to have a lot of cash.
On Dec. 10, an Acushnet officer watched as Altafin went to the same ATM where DaSilva was arrested and attempt multiple transactions, getting cash out at least once.
A judge ordered Altafin detained in federal custody on Thursday. DaSilva remains in custody in Massachusetts; he has yet to have a court date set for U.S. District Court in Providence.