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Posted on: July 29, 2011

“Poison Ivy” Fraud Ring Indicted in Money Laundering Scheme

PHOENIX, AZ (July 29, 2011) – Six individuals are facing multiple felony charges including fraud, identity theft, computer tampering and money laundering for allegedly stealing financial information from unsuspecting customers at TruWest Credit Union ATM machines and using the information to make hundreds of fraudulent transactions throughout Maricopa County. Dubbed the “Poison Ivy Fraud Ring” by Tempe Police investigators, the defendants attached specially made “skimmers” on the ATM machines to collect customer data which was subsequently used to manufacture fake ATM cards.

“I’d like to commend Tempe Police Chief Tom Ryff for the superb investigatory work of his agency in stopping this criminal enterprise dead in its tracks,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Let this be a warning to others who seek to steal identities from the citizens of Maricopa County that we will be vigilant and aggressive in prosecuting these types of crimes,” he added.

Defendant Craig Cunningham (D.O.B. 3/25/63) was seen on surveillance video installing the skimming devices onto the ATM machines. The devices, believed to be manufactured in Bulgaria, were capable of detecting financial data and pin numbers from the cards of customers using the ATM machines. This information was rerouted to computers belonging to criminals involved in the fraud ring. Other defendants were seen on surveillance video performing multiple illegal ATM withdrawals throughout the Valley with fraudulent cards encoded with the stolen financial information. A cut of the funds was sent to Bulgaria by the defendants over various dates through illegal wire transfers. Damages to the victims and the banks who reimbursed them were between $200,000 and $300,000.

A search of Cunningham’s residence yielded incriminating notes, forgery devices, computers and a machine used to re-encode credit card numbers. Other defendants named in the 58-count indictment include Cory J. Ashton (D.O.B 5/15/72), Chris A. Gamboa (D.O.B. 10/3/72), Echo W. Kwiatkowski (D.O.B. 10/10/75), Donald J. Anzelmo (D.O.B. 9/14/60) and Robert A. Armijo (D.O.B. 4/17/59). All are currently in custody, each on a $50,000 cash-only bond.

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