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It was so very simple, it was criminal.
A Park Slope lawyer was one of four people netted in a wild and widespread reverse ATM scam: they allegedly managed to get borough banks to pay them for pulling money out of their own accounts.
But the $422,000 pruning of this money tree ended with arrests, Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes announced.
“They should have known they would be caught eventually,” Hynes said as he announced the indictment of Park Slope resident Eric Manganelli, 36, who was valedictorian at his graduating class at Xaverian High School, Forest Hills resident Lam Dang, 37, and John Tluczek, 37, and Marzena Tluczek, 35, both of 58th Street in Sunset Park.
All four suspects were charged with multiple counts of grand larceny and falsifying business records for allegedly siphoning money from their own bank accounts and then getting reimbursed by the banks after claiming that their ATM cards had been stolen or lost and someone else had looted their accounts.
Prosecutors said that foursome -- all of whom worked in the bank or finance fields -- allegedly took advantage of Regulation E of the Federal Electronic Funds Transfer Act, which requires banks to reimburse fraud victims within 10 days after the crime was reported.
“These defendants corrupted a law created to help fraud victims and used it to facilitate a tremendous fraud of their own,” Hynes said.
The four suspects are charged with setting up accounts in 20 different banks throughout the city. After draining their accounts, claiming foul play and getting reimbursed, they would withdraw the ill-gotten funds and close the account before the bank could complete their investigation, officials alleged.
Together, the suspects allegedly made false claims of over $700,000, prosecutors said, adding that the suspects would not only pull money from ATMs, but would also allegedly use the ATM check cards to make large purchases they claimed they never made.
Prosecutors charge that when they withdrew their money, the suspects would allegedly wear hoods, masks or motorcycle helmets -- even in the sweltering summertime heat -- so they couldn’t be identified on bank surveillance videos.
The scam lasted five years before workers at the banks began talking to each other and learned that they had “victims” in common, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said that Manganelli, Dang and John Tluczek knew each other from NYU. Manganelli and Tluczek met each other at Xaverian High School, officials said.
If convicted, each faces seven years in prison.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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