Woman involved in ATM scam sentenced in federal court

NEW HAVEN - A New London woman who helped steal more than $300,000 from 250 bank accounts across New England was sentenced in federal court Thursday to 45 months in prison.

Gabriella Graham, 21, faces three years of supervised release after her prison term.

She admitted in December that she was guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud stemming from her role in a scheme to "skim" automatic teller machine users' bank account information.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Graham helped make counterfeit ATM cards, served as a lookout and made unauthorized cash withdrawals using stolen bank account information between February and July of last year.

Prosecutors said the skimming scheme involved installing devices on ATMs that recorded information encoded on the magnetic strips of bank cards used by ATM customers. They added that the group also put hidden pinhole cameras on ATMs to record users' personal identification numbers. That information allowed them to create counterfeit bank cards and steal money from those customers' accounts, authorities said. Among the banks affected was the Webster Bank ATM at 654 Long Hill Road in Groton, where the group placed a skimming device on May 12, 2011.

Graham conspired with two Turkish nationals, according to the prosecutor's office, one of whom, 40-year-old Ahmet Cilek, lived with Graham for a time in New London. Cilek and Mehmet Aydin have both pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

Prosecutors said the trio victimized 11 banks and one credit union in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, stealing $336,057.64 from more than 250 different bank accounts.

Each defendant was originally charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, six counts of bank fraud and six counts of identify theft.

As part of the sentence, Graham must pay full restitution.

The Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force conducted the investigation with help and support from numerous local, state and federal agencies.

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