Issaquah man faces charge in Pasco for ATM skimming

September 3, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 8 a.m. Sept. 3, 2011

Franklin County prosecutors charged a 34-year-old Issaquah man, because authorities said he placed a device on a Pasco ATM to read customers’ debit and credit card numbers.

Mihai Elekes, 34, is expected to appear Tuesday in Franklin County Superior Court for the unlawful factoring of transactions charge related to the ATM skimming incident.

Prosecutors said Elekes and a 40-year-old accomplice installed a card reader and mirrors attached to metal strips on the ATM machine at a Chase Bank in Pasco.

Pasco police officers, Secret Service agents and bank security agents arrested Elekes and Janos Chertes late Aug. 28 in a sting operation at the bank.

The suspects placed the card reader on the ATM at about 6 a.m. on a Sunday — a day the bank was closed, authorities said in court documents. Officials then watched the ATM and waited for the suspects to return.

Prosecutors said the device had also been placed on the same ATM on several Sundays in July and August.

If convicted on the seldom-used unlawful factoring of transactions charge, Elekes could face up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine. He remains in custody at the Franklin County Jail on $250,000 bail.

However, prosecutors could seek a tougher penalty against Elekes. In court documents, prosecutors said the crime constituted a major economic offense, involved multiple victims, and required significant planning and sophistication to complete.

Prosecutors did not charge Chertes, a Hungarian citizen in the United States on a tourist visa. Instead, police released him to federal authorities Aug. 31.

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