Two Venezuelans busted for stealing thousands from ATMs in US

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Two men who came to the U.S. on visas have been arrested and charged in connection with an ATM skimming scheme at three banking locations.

Pedro Donciano Baptista-Zazarias, 38, and Renato LaCovara, 31, both from Venezuela, are being charged with a Class-B felony involving trafficking in stolen identities.

The two men carried out the crimes on March 24 and were reportedly caught on surveillance video installing electronic skimming devices on three Commerce Bank ATMs and stealing thousands of dollars while also compromising the bank accounts of approximately 150 customers, according to police reports.

The court documents allege that the duo installed skimmers on a Commerce ATM at 804 E. 12th Street in downtown Kansas City, Mo., and two others in Kansas City, Kan., at 202 W. 43rd Street and 4020 Rainbow Boulevard.

A total of 44 accounts were compromised at the 12 St. location, with a loss of $351.98, and 100 accounts were compromised at the KCK locations with a loss of $21,341.05.

Authorities arrested the pair after they attempted to use the stolen bank accounts at Argosy Casino in Riverside.

During police questioning, LaCovara confessed to police that he and Baptista paid a man $400 to drive them to Kansas City from Houston to commit ATM fraud. He also pointed blame at Baptista for being the mastermind behind the operation and LaCovara maintained he only took money from the ATM.

However, Baptista contends he had minimal involvement and LaCovara was in charge because he knew how to install the skimmers.

Investigators raided their hotel room and discovered skimmers, a laptop and between 100 and 200 gift cards and 20 blank credit cards. Receipts also indicated they had been at the 12th Street ATM. Agents also seized more than $10,000 in cash from the room.

It was later discovered that both Venezuelan men were granted Visas, though LaCovara’s Visa had expired and he was living in the U.S. illegally. Baptista has been issued a six-month tourist Visa in February, says the report.

Both men remain in jail and Jackson County prosecutors have requested a $250,000 bail on Donaciano. LaCovara was already being held on a $30,000 bond, reports Fox 4 News.

If found guilty by the court, they will face 5 to 15 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections facility.

H/T: Fox 4 News

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