FBI Raids Hollywood Apartment Complex, Arrests 5 Amid Investigation Into ID Theft Ring

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Five people were arrested and a sixth was being sought after the FBI raided an apartment complex in Hollywood on Tuesday in connection with an investigation into crime ring that installed devices into ATMs to harvest credit card data, officials said.

Federal agents and Torrance police officers stormed Vantage Hollywood Apartments, located at 1710 N. Fuller Ave., in search of four individuals charged with bank fraud in a criminal complaint on Tuesday morning, said Laura Eimiller, a spokesperson for the FBI's Los Angeles field office. Members of the Secret Service also assisted in the enforcement.

A man is taken away in handcuffs after the FBI raided an apartment building in Hollywood on April 24, 2018. (Credit: KTLA)
A man is taken away in handcuffs after the FBI raided an apartment building in Hollywood on April 24, 2018. (Credit: KTLA)

Three of those people were arrested: Cosmin Mihai Cozma, 41; Richard Ryan Mirron, 43; and Kasey Tcaciuc, 33. A fourth, however, was not located and is being sought by authorities, Eimiller said, though she did not give the person's name.

The suspects were arrested on charges of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. They were expected to make an initial appearance in court Tuesday afternoon, according to Eimiller.

Officials also arrested Sebastian-Alin Marita and Gogu-Alin Tipurita and said they would be charged in a forthcoming complaint, though the allegations against them were unclear.

A woman who lives below the suspects told KTLA she had thought they were doing renovations in the apartment above because of the constant noise she would hear.

The initial criminal complaint alleges Cozma, Mirron and Tcaciuc were part of a scheme that, in part, involved inserting "shimming" devices into ATMs at banks across Southern California. Shimming is a lot like card skimming, but the technique is able to steal data from a card's EMV chip instead of the magnetic stripe, cyber defense consultant Lou Rabon told KTLA.

"The shimmer is an electronic device that will record the content of your EMV chip that’s on the card," he said. "Therefore, when you put it into the machine, it contacts the chip, reads the information and stores it. Later on the bad guys will come back, pull that small piece of electronics out and download all the chips that it got."

The technology, which has been around since 2015, can't clone a chip card, but it can clone a magnetic stripe version of one to be used at points of sale with less security, Rabon said.

Multiple search warrants were also served Tuesday to turn up evidence in connection with the investigation, Eimiller said. Agents seized large amounts of cash and a piece of an ATM.

Authorities did not release further details.

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