SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A San Diego man who placed a debit card skimming device on a bank security door and trained hidden cameras on ATM machines so he could steal the PIN numbers of thousands of customers pleaded guilty Monday to identity theft, burglary and grand theft charges.
Daniel Axinte, 49, entered his plea on the day his preliminary hearing was to go forward.
The defendant -- who was charged with 25 counts -- faces a maximum of two years in state prison when he is sentenced Feb. 7.
In addition to placing the debit card skimming device on the security door of a Chase bank branch in Rancho Penasquitos, Axinte installed covert cameras to obtain the PIN numbers of unsuspecting customers when they punched their code into ATM machines at the same branch, prosecutors said.
Axinte is believed to have obtained the security codes for more than 970 ATM/debit cards, resulting in estimated losses of $300,000, said Deputy District Attorney Sharla Evert. Bank customers had no idea their personal information was compromised.
Evert said Axinte used reconfigured debit cards from the stolen personal information and withdrew money from the victims' accounts between January and July of last year, mostly in $500 increments. One victim had to get a new debit cards three times, the prosecutor said.
Chase bank notified the San Diego Regional Fraud Task Force of the series of crimes occurring at its branch on Black Mountain Road.
Prosecutors said a Chase investigator determined someone had been placing the debit card skimming device on the security door accessing the lobby of the Black Mountain bank and ATM machines. The bank investigator reviewed surveillance videos from the branch and determined the same suspect had installed the skimmer and cameras on five previous weekends.
Investigators from the fraud task force conducted surveillance at the branch and arrested Axinte late last July.
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