SAUGUS — A 43-year-old Brazilian national pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of ATM skimming in Saugus and other towns.
Alexandre Kawamura, 43, pleaded guilty to two counts of using counterfeit access devices (debit and credit cards), four counts of possessing device-making equipment for ATM skimming devices and pinhole cameras, and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin scheduled sentencing for April 17.
Kawamura legally entered the United States on a tourist visa but will be subject to deportation after he completes his sentence, according to a statement from the office of United States Attorney General Andrew E. Lelling.
He allegedly placed hidden skimming devices and pinhole cameras at Eastern Bank ATMs in Saugus, Stoneham, Medford, and Everett, every day between Feb. 25 and the day he was arrested, March 16, 2018. Skimming devices record bank account information on the magnetic strips of debit and credit cards that victims inserted into the ATMs. The pinhole cameras captured the PIN numbers as they were entered on the ATM keypads.
On March 8, Kawamura allegedly used a counterfeit debit card with a magnetic strip that contained the stolen bank account number of a Milton woman to withdraw $500 from the victim’s account. Eight days later, Lelling said Kawamura used a counterfeit credit card to buy clothing at a sporting goods store in Medford.
He was arrested later that day after a bank customer called police to report that he found a skimming device on a drive-up ATM at an Eastern Bank branch in Stoneham. Police discovered the pinhole camera was still attached to the ATM, set up surveillance, and waited for the suspect to return.
Kawamura allegedly drove up to the ATM in a rental car shortly before 11 p.m. He appeared to look for the skimming device, then drive off, according to the statement.
Stoneham Police stopped the car and discovered that the driver had a Brazilian passport issued under his real name and rented the car under an alias.
Kawamura was allegedly in possession of the counterfeit credit card that he had just used to buy clothing at the sporting goods store.
The charging statute for using a counterfeit access device provides for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of possessing device-making equipment provides for a sentence of no greater than 15 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. The charging statute for aggravated identity theft provides for a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, to be served consecutive to any other sentenced imposed, up to one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.