On 10/2/23, Chico Police Detectives, with the assistance of the Butte County District Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), conducted surveillance at numerous locations throughout Chico. Chico Police Detectives and the District Attorney Investigators have been working collaboratively to identify numerous suspects placing ATM skimming devices. These suspects then use the stolen information to “cash out” the compromised accounts.
On 10/2/23, Detectives detained and subsequently arrested 4 suspects. Michael Kasper Eriksen (32 yrs), Dorel Florin Hodeanu (25 yrs), Grag Jan (25 yrs), and Alexandra Bianc Niculescustoian (26 yrs) were the 4 subjects arrested. These suspects were observed using fraudulent cards to withdraw cash from numerous banks located in the downtown Chico area. Detectives found these subjects in possession of over 30 fraudulent cards, approximately $33,000 in cash, and ATM Skimmer placement and removal tools. All three subjects were arrested on multiple violations of 530.5 PC (fraudulent use of another person’s identifying information) and 182 PC (Conspiracy to commit fraud).
Through the course of this investigation, Detectives have learned that ATM Skimming is a state-wide issue. This highly organized criminal activity uses subjects to place and remove the skimming devices. The stolen account numbers and pin codes are scanned onto cards. These cards are then used to withdraw money from accounts. Criminals will often identify and target Electronic Benefit Transfer Card Accounts (EBT) due to the millions of dollars available every month.
There are a couple of easy ways to prevent your information from being stolen. When entering your PIN code at an ATM, always cover the keypad with one hand when inputting the PIN with your other hand. This will prevent any hidden cameras from observing your PIN code. Look for false fronts attached to the machine. ATM Skimmers will often rely on a camera hidden in these false fronts. If something looks out of place, check to see if it is firmly attached and belongs to the ATM Device. Skimming Devices are rarely placed inside of the banks. They are placed in high-trafficked ATMS so that they can add or remove skimming devices without being detected by bank staff.
The Chico Police Department would like to recognize the assistance of the Butte County District Attorney’s Office and FBI with this operation. The complexity and size of this criminal enterprise demands that we take a multi-agency approach to enforcement. Their assistance was instrumental in the apprehension of these 4 subjects.
Location: Multiple Downtown Chico Banks
Victim: State of California
Suspect(s): Michael Kasper Eriksen, Dorel Florin Hodeanu, Grag Jan, and Alexandra Bianc Niculescustoaian
Supervisor: Sgt. Nick Bauer
Watch Commander: Lt. Brian Miller