Friday, May 27, 2011

Repairman Caught And Charged With Replacing ATM Cash With Counterfeit Bills

Samuel Kioskli, a 64-year-old ATM serviceman apparently decided to fund an early retirement for himself by swapping out $200,000 in real bills for counterfeit ones at 7 machines he was servicing, and he nearly pulled it off.

The counterfeit bills were crude photocopies and weren't designed to fool anyone, so I would guess that the machines have a sensor that reports when they're running low and the photocopies were simply designed to allow Kioskli time to get out of town and make his getaway.

“He went into seven of these machines, took the cash out and replaced it with counterfeit, and not sophisticated, just simply taking some bills, placing them on the Xerox machine, cut them up and put them in its place in the machines,” said Steve Wagstaffe, San Mateo County District Attorney.

Once he had the cash in hand, Kioskli left town, and was already long gone by the time angry customers were marching into bank branches screaming about being scammed. It was almost a perfect crime.

But then Kioskli made two mistakes that are almost comical in their stupidity ( and please, no Polish jokes in the comments section).

First, he left without telling his wife anything, which meant she immediately made a missing persons report to the police.

If a guy wanted to bug out for a new life and was already going to dump his wife anyway, it would have taken someone with a fighting chance of a two digit IQ to figure out that feeding her some story about having to go out of town for a week or so would buy him more time for a getaway.

Second, Kioskli apparently was unclear on the concept of a successful escape. Now up to a point he did exactly what I would do in similar circumstances, look for someplace warm with no extradition treaty with the US, where $200,000 would make you comparatively rich and give you a nice stake to start over.

Unfortunately for him, the only part of that Kioskli figured out was the part about someplace warm.

After stealing $200 grand in cash and making his getaway, where did he flee to ?

Phoenix, Arizona.

I kid you not.

And that's where he was caught, at a routine traffic stop.

“Reported as a missing person, he went into the ‘Wanted Persons’ category. Then of course the investigation followed up and they said, ‘Well maybe he isn’t just a missing person.’ And that’s what led them to say ‘Well there’s a good person to target as to who might have taken the money,’” said Wagstaffe.

In a way, I have some sympathy for Kioskli. After all, he wasn't doing anything that Geithner and Bernanke over at the Fed aren't doing, printing up a lot of counterfeit dollars and then switching them - pardon me, 'buying them' on credit - for T-bills purchased with real money.

After they finish their time in government, Bernanke and Geithner will go back to their careers on Wall Street. Kioskli? He sitting in jail in lieu of $25,000 bail, and is being charged with four felonies, including commercial burglary and embezzlement.

He's definitely going to have a new life, but perhaps not the one he pictured.


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