Two journalism students from Romania were indicted in Queens Supreme Court on Monday for stealing more than $17,000 dollars from a Chase bank with Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards.
According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, the two men, Daniel Gheorghe and Ionel Cristian Popa, both 33, visited a Chase bank branch in Hollis on March 31 and proceeded to make multiple unauthorized transactions using gift cards that were re-encoded with stolen bank account information.
JPMorgan Chase, which has several monitoring procedures to protect against identity theft, noticed suspicious activity and alerted police. When officers arrived, they arrested Gheorghe and Cristian Popa and allegedly found $17,703 in stolen funds and 66 Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards.
Prosecutors explained that gift cards are marked with a sixteen-digit vendor account number, but according to the criminal charges, none of those numbers displayed on the seized cards matched the account numbers encoded on the cards’ magnetic strips.
The 70-count indictment includes charges of grand larceny, possession of stolen property, criminal possession of a forged instrument and scheme to defraud.
If convicted, Gheorghe and Cristian Popa face up to seven years in prison for stolen property.
“Instead of going on a run for coffee and doughnuts with their gift cards, the defendants are instead accused of going to the bank and using its ATMs as their personal slot machines, cashing out large sums of money with each use of their ‘doctored’ Dunkin’ Donut gift cards,” Brown said.