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Man arrested in Holiday ATM 'skimming' case at Bank of America

HOLIDAY —All authorities had was a "pretty good picture" of a dark-haired man suspected of putting a "skimming" device on an ATM to steal financial information from unsuspecting customers.

As it turned out, the photo, taken last month by a Bank of America surveillance camera, was all they needed. Detectives identified their suspect, and at 3:30 a.m. Monday, law officers in the Panhandle town of Destin arrested a 23-year-old man from Moldova they think was involved in a fraud operation that could have victimized residents across the state.

Alexandr "Sasha" Micotin, who had no permanent address but whose place of birth was listed as Moldova, faces charges of organized fraud, two counts of criminal use of personal identification information, three counts of possession of a scanning device and four counts of grand theft. He was being held Friday at the Pasco County jail in lieu of $70,000 bail.

"This case could have statewide implications," said Kevin Doll, spokesman for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

He did not have details of the circumstances that lead to Micotin's arrest in the Panhandle county, but said deputies got a "pretty good picture of him" from the security camera at the 4539 Bartelt Road Bank of America.

Bank workers had discovered scratches and gluey residue on the ATM on Aug. 26. An investigation showed that over several nights in August, a thief or thieves placed a device — called a skimmer — on the ATM to read and copy card numbers. Such information is then transferred onto cloned credit cards and used to withdraw cash at other ATMs.

Doll said last month that 44 victims had been identified so far, with more than $26,000 stolen from their Bank of America accounts. The customers aren't out that money though; the bank protects them from unauthorized transactions.

"We think it's an organized group," Detective John Suess with the Sheriff's Office's economic crimes unit told the Times in August.

Records show Micotin was married in Okaloosa County in 2009. Except for some traffic-related offenses, he has no criminal record in Florida.

An arrest report from Okaloosa said only that a deputy "initiated citizen contact" with Micotin at 15017 Emerald Coast Parkway in Destin. A background check showed he was wanted in Pasco.

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report.

ATM smarts

To protect yourself from thieves, authorities warn customers to look for devices on ATMs and other card-swiping machines. If it can be removed, it probably is not supposed to be there.

Authorities also urge people to always shield their PINs when entering them on keypads — at ATMs, gas stations, grocery stores, even if no one seems to be around to see it.

Man arrested in Holiday ATM 'skimming' case at Bank of America 09/16/11 [Last modified: Friday, September 16, 2011 8:37pm]
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