Queens Woman Gets Jail in LIRR Skimming Scam: DA

Officials said the suspects stole customers' PIN numbers and other financial information at stations on Long Island, in Queens, and in Westchester County

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Queens woman has been sentenced to nine months in jail for stealing bank and financial information from Long Island Rail Road customers through a skimming device planted on ticket machines, authorities say. 

    Teodora Zaharia, 28, of Kew Gardens, has also agreed to give up $61,250 in cash found at her Kew Gardens apartment, proseuctors say. 

    Zaharia and her husband, co-defendant Valer Zaharia, 38, were arrested last October when they were caught by investigators retrieving two skimmers and hidden cameras from ticket vending machines at the Sea Cliff LIRR station. 

    Officials said the suspects placed the devices and cameras at stations on Long Island, in Queens, and in Westchester County, stealing customers' PINs and other financial information. 

    Pinhole cameras were hidden inside black metal strips and mounted above the machine's keypad for entering codes. Plastic skimmers were also placed over bank card slots to capture information from their magnetic stripes.

    Nine devices were found installed at the Sea Cliff, Bayside, Great Neck, Merillon Avenue, and Greenvale LIRR stations and three were found at the Chappaqua Metro-North station, authorities said. 

    Evidence seized from the suspects included thousands of debit and credit card numbers, many of which authorities believe came from the compromised ticket vending machines.

    Valer Zaharia pleaded guilty earlier this month and is due back in court for sentencing May 12. 

    Two other suspects involved in the scam, 37-year-old Dorin Husa and 45-year-old Niculae Petre, both of Elmhurst, have also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. 

    Authorities also have a warrant out for the arrest of Cezar Nastasa, who fled to the United Kingdom in October after the other four suspects were arrested in the scam. 

    Officials have been warning customers about skimming fraud in recent months, including at the Long Island Rail Road station in Baldwin, and at a MetroCard vending machine at the Columbus Circle subway station.

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