METHUEN, Mass. - Methuen Police arrested two men from Canada for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from ATMs in the area. Police believe the two are connected to a much larger crime scheme that could stretch across multiple states.
Police say they found the two men running an ATM fraud operation out of their hotel room at a Days Inn.
"They came up from Georgia, and I don't think you’re just gonna end up in Methuen from Georgia," said Methuen Police Captain Kris McCarthy. "I think there were probably several stops along the way."
McCarthy said police believe the men flew from Canada to Atlanta and drove up to New England, where they stole cash from ATMs.
Tharushan Nirmalachandran, 30, of Quebec, Canada, and Ajitharan Raveendran, 28, of Ontario, Canada, were arrested Saturday on charges of receiving stolen property over $1,200 and possession of a burglarious instrument.
Police say a bystander noticed a man withdrawing money several times from an ATM in Hudson, New Hampshire. The called reported the man was driving a blue Chevy Malibu with a New Jersey registration and had been using the ATM for large periods of time for about half an hour, moving the car when another vehicle would pull up to the ATM.
"So, the citizen alerted the police department, the officer stopped the individual, and, through his initial investigation, he could determine he had a large sum of money and several ATM debit cards in his possession," McCarthy said.
At the scene, the responding officer found a large amount of money stacked on the passenger seat and a large number of gift cards on the console of the suspect's car.
The suspect, identified as Syed Hoque, 23, of Brooklyn, NY, confessed to police he was involved in a theft ring where he used stolen account information from gift cards to withdraw money from an ATM.
After a search warrant was obtained for Hoque's car, officers found over $9,000 as well as numerous gift cards containing bank account information.
Hoque was charged with one count of receiving stolen property exceeding $1,500, a class A felony in the state of New Hampshire.
Police tracked the two other suspects to a hotel room at a Days Inn in Methuen. After getting a warrant to search the pair's rental car, police said they found dozens of cash gift cards, debit cards and more than $64,000 in cash stuffed inside a duffel bag. A "printing device and an electronic device determined to be used to activate and utilize bank cards" was also found, according to a news release.
Police believe the suspects would steal those gift cards from stores and add as much money as they could to them.
"And then they were manipulating it where they had some type of scanner device you put on a laptop and they were able to process money onto these cards and then use them at ATMs to make withdrawals," McCarthy said.
Police believe the suspects are part of a larger ring of criminals, who could be responsible for stealing thousands in multiple states before trying to get back home to Canada.
"We're assuming that tomorrow morning when the banks reopen that our investigation will get larger," McCarthy said.
The Nirmalachandran and Raveendran are being held on a $250,000 cash bail. Hoque declined to go before a bail commissioner.
Police said more charges could be filed.
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