MADIGAN ANNOUNCES CHARGES IN WIDESPREAD IDENTITY THEFT
Defendants Had Access to Millions of Dollars in Victims’ Bank Accounts
Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan today announced criminal charges stemming from several widespread identity theft schemes that illegally obtained more than a thousand personal bank account and pin numbers from victims who used ATM machines across the Chicago area and the Midwest.
Indictments formally charging defendants Anguel Marinkov and Radomir Georgiev were returned today in Cook County Circuit Court for a scheme that allegedly rigged Chicago area ATM machines to “skim” the bank account and pin numbers of account holders who used the machines.
A third defendant, Dimitar Vangelov, was also indicted today on charges for possessing hundreds of gift cards and credit cards containing stolen bank or credit card information. Vangelov was arrested last month after authorities executed a search warrant at his home in Chicago’s Trump Tower.
Today’s charges against Marinkov, Georgiev and Vangelov follow similar cases previously filed by the Attorney General’s Financial Crimes Bureau against two additional defendants, Martin Ivanov and Georgi Radonov.
Madigan said defendants Marinkov, Georgiev, Ivanov and Radonov are alleged to have operated separate, yet nearly identical “skimming” crimes in which electronic devices were placed on ATM machines to record victims’ financial information. Using the stolen information, the defendants allegedly created counterfeit ATM cards to withdraw money from victims’ accounts, giving them access to millions of dollars in bank accounts belonging to victims in Cook and DuPage counties, parts of Wisconsin and across the Midwest.
“These ‘skimming’ operations are a growing threat to consumers, most of whom are unaware they’ve been victimized in such a scheme,” Attorney General Madigan said. “These cases should serve as an alarm bell to everyone to pay close attention to their financial statements and to immediately flag unauthorized transactions with their bank.”
Madigan said the majority of ATM machines compromised in the skimming schemes belonged to Fifth Third and Chase Banks, which assisted in the investigations and are notifying potential victims.
Marinkov, 41, Georgiev, 33, and Vangelov, 27, all of Chicago, face charges of continuing a financial crimes enterprise, a Class 1 felony punishable by four to 15 years in prison, identity theft, a Class 2 felony punishable by three to seven years, and financial institution fraud, a Class 3 felony punishable by two to five years. Marinkov additionally faces one count of a Class X identity theft, punishable by six to 30 years in prison.
Ivanov, 26, of Schiller Park, was previously charged with identity theft, financial institution fraud and as the organizer of a continuing financial crimes enterprise. Radonov, 31, of Chicago, pleaded guilty last month in DuPage County Circuit Court to financial institution fraud and was sentenced to three years in prison.
The five cases were separately investigated and referred to Madigan’s office for prosecution. The case against defendants Marinkov and Georgiev were investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and the Chicago Police Department. The two agencies and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration also handled the investigation in the Vangelov case. Officers from the Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security and the Naperville Police Department investigated the Ivanov and Radonov cases.
Madigan said identity theft continues to be a growing threat to Illinois consumers. Last year, more than 3,200 identity theft complaints were filed with her office’s Consumer Fraud Bureau. Consumers reported incidents of fraudulent charges on their existing accounts, thieves opening new accounts in their names (including credit card, utility and cell phone accounts) and instances of bank fraud, such as stolen checks or fraudulent withdrawals made to a victim’s bank account.
Madigan urged consumers to contact her Identity Theft Hotline, (866) 999-5630 or TTY (877) 844-5461, for one-on-one assistance to report suspected incidents of identity theft to local law enforcement and financial institutions and for help repairing their credit and for protecting their identities.
Assistant Bureau Chief Edward Carter and Assistant Attorneys General Anshuman Vaidya and Edward Snow are handling the cases for Madigan’s Financial Crimes Bureau.
The public is reminded that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.