News & Resources

Judge issues lengthy sentences to ID thieves

Dec 09, 2011 Karen Umpierre

Three Bulgarian men involved in a skimming scheme that defrauded 348 New Jersey-based Valley National Bank users of nearly $280,000 were recently sentenced. Lachezar Lazarov of Queens, New York, received 65 months and Georgi Nikiforov, also of Queens, was sentenced to 57 months while Brooklyn native Viktor Kafalov will serve 32 months behind bars. The men were charged following a 2008 undertaking in which they installed skimming devices onto VNB ATMs in Nutley and Belleville. They obtained users' account information, transferred and loaded it onto blank ATM cards and made unauthorized withdrawals from the victims' skimmed accounts. Julie Fergerson, a board member of the Identity Theft Resource Center, told Bank Info Security that state prosecutors charged the co-conspirators with aggravated identity theft, which carries a longer sentence. "This helps add a good amount of time to the sentence," she told the news source. "This is a new trend that is starting to emerge this year. The prosecutors track down the victims so that they can process these cases as aggravated identity theft, which has stronger sentences. I hope to see many more like this."