A man who was arrested in Riverside in 2014 for taking money from a local ATM machine by skimming fraudulent debit cards through the card reader pleaded guilty on Feb. 29 to one count of counterfeiting.
Valeriu Malcoci, 20, a citizen of Moldova who lives in Skokie, was sentenced by Cook County Judge Paula Daleo to two years’ felony probation and order to pay court costs and fines for his part in the incident in Riverside on Aug. 3, 2014.
However, Malcoci might not be out of the woods, legally speaking, according to Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel.
Following his sentencing, Malcoci appeared at the Riverside Police Department to claim personal belongings, including his passport. But, local police no longer have the passport in their possession.
Malcoci’s passport is in the hands of the U.S. Secret Service, which is still investigating what ties Malcoci may have to a Russian organized crime ring that at the time of Malcoci’s arrest was suspected of stealing personal information from people internationally.
“The Secret Service took evidence we had, so he may face federal charges,” Weitzel said. “We heard that it’s still an open investigation as recently as a month ago. The Secret Service will be reaching out to him.”
Riverside police arrested Malcoci at about 8 p.m. on Aug. 3, 2014 after a Brookfield man who was working in the area called to report suspicious activity at the ATM in the Bank of America parking lot at Harlem Avenue and East Burlington Street.
Malcoci, wearing had walked back and forth several times from his vehicle to the ATM. Police apprehended him in a nearby alley. At the time, Malcoci had in his possession $400 in cash and 45 debit cards and gift cards.
Police also detained two Russian nationals they found walking in the 300 block of East Burlington Street. The Russians were released without being charged, although their cellphones were seized as evidence.
Police at the time said Malcoci essentially converted gift cards into debit cards by encoding them with information and PIN numbers stolen from residents of Paris, France. Malcoci reportedly told police at the time that the card and personal information were transmitted via the Internet with a Russian crime ring.
Weitzel at the time of Malcoci’s arrest said Malcoci knew that the ATM could detect fraud so he spaced out his visits to the machine to break up any patterns.