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Donuts or Bust

Romanian nationals accused of using re-encoded Dunkin' gift cards to steal cash from Queens bank's ATM, Queens DA says.

Two Romanian nationals have been indicted for allegedly stealing more than $17,000 from a Queens bank by performing multiple unauthorized withdrawals using Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards that had been re-encoded with stolen bank account information, the Queens district attorney said.

Daniel Gheorghe and Ionel Cristian Popa, both of whom are 33 years old, were arraigned July 28 at the Queens County Supreme Court in Kew Gardens on a 70-count indictment that included charges of grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, criminal possession of a forged instrument and scheme to defraud, Queens DA Richard Brown said.

The defendants, who are Romanian nationals with no known addresses in the United States, could face up to seven years in prison on each of the 66 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument if convicted, the DA said.

“Instead of going on a run for coffee and doughnuts with their gift cards, the defendants are accused of going to the bank and using its ATMs as their personal slot machines, cashing out large sums of money with each use of their doctored Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards,” Brown said.

The duo, held on $150,000 bail each, will return to court on Aug. 23.

Gheorge and Popa are accused of stealing thousands of dollars from a Chase Bank, located at 205-19 Hillside Ave. in Hollis, by using the Dunkin’ Donuts rechargeable gift cards that had been re-encoded with stolen account information belonging to various banks, including Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, HSBC, Maestro, Nuvision Federal Credit Union and U.S. Bank National Association.

According to the criminal complaint, the pair was allegedly observed by police on March 31 making the withdrawals, the DA said.

The defendants allegedly jammed large amounts of cash in their pockets following each transaction, Brown said.

Police seized $17,703 in stolen funds and 66 Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards at the time of the duo’s arrest, he said.

Each gift card from the coffee shop is market with a 16-digit vendor account number. But none of the account numbers displayed on the seized cards matched the account numbers encoded on the cards’ magnetic strips, the DA said.

Officers were summoned to the bank during the incident by investigators from JP Morgan Chase.


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