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Hollis pair sentenced to prison for Dunkin’ gift card thefts: DA

TimesLedger Newspapers

Two foreigners who stole thousands of dollars from a Hollis bank using modified gift cards were sentenced last week for their crimes, the Queens district attorney said.

A Queens Supreme Court judge ordered Nov. 16 Daniel Gheorghe and Ionel Cristian Popa, both 33, of Romania, to be placed in prison for one year to three years on grand larceny charges, Queens DA Richard Brown said.

The two men, who were in the United States on journalism visas, admitted reprogramming Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards with stolen bank account information and stealing the money from a Chase ATM, according to Brown.

“The defendants should have used the Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards to purchase coffee and donuts. Instead, they have just bought themselves up to three years in prison. Justice has been served,” he said in a statement.

The two men used the rechargeable gift cards and re-encoded them with banking information stolen from accounts from various banks, including Chase Bank, Bank of America, Citibank, HSBC, Maestro, Nuvision Federal Credit Unit and US Bank National Association, the DA said.

On March 31, they took the gift cards to an ATM machine at the Chase branch at 205-19 Hillside Ave. and withdrew $17,703, according to Brown.

Officers, who were watching the scene at the request of JPMorgan Chase due to a large number of complaints from customers who reported their accounts were comprised, not only observed the men illegally withdraw the money, but also saw them stuffing the bills into their various pockets, the DA said.

When they arrested the suspects, they found the cash and 66 Dunkin’ Donuts cards in their possession, Brown said. None of the cards’ 16-digit account numbers matched the account numbers that were encoded in the plastic, according to Brown.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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