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Man reportedly uses gift cards to steal from IU Credit Union ATMs

A 43-year-old man from Romania was arrested around 8:47 p.m. Sunday after police were notified of suspicious activity in progress at the 17th Street Indiana University Credit Union.

Bloomington Police Department Sgt. Dana Cole said a credit union employee called because multiple ATM transactions using cards with no embedded microchip were taking place and large amounts of money were being withdrawn.

Police arrived and saw Cristian Darla walking away from the IU Credit Union. Darla was detained, and officers discovered four Walmart gift cards with four-digit codes written on the back and $1,500 in $20 bills on him, Cole said.

Cole said Darla claimed he didn’t speak English, and officers utilized a police department English assistance phone line to translate. Darla told police he used bank cards to withdraw money from the ATM.

The chief operating officer of IU Credit Union, Andrew Allard, came to the scene and gave police a photo taken from security footage depicting Darla committing the fraud, Cole said. 

Allard told police all IU Credit Union debit or credit cards have embedded microchips. IU Credit Union ATMs accept cards without microchips from members of some different banks.

Allard told police he believed Darla bought the gift cards knowing he could use computer software to delete the gift card information. Debit or credit card information and matching PIN numbers purchased on the darknet could then be loaded onto the gift cards through the black magnetic strip on the back, making them working debit or credit cards. 

Allard told police people who practice this scheme will often write the bank's name and the PIN numbers on the backs of the gift cards.  

Darla was arrested on charges of fraud and defrauding a financial institution. The investigation is active.

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