Seattle man sentenced for ATM skimming spree

By Paul Suarez, Columbian freelance

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A Seattle man was sentenced to five years in prison, five years in supervised release and ordered to pay more than $400,000 in restitution for an ATM skimming spree in Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.

Beneyam Asrat G-Sellassie, 23, of Seattle was sentenced for conspiracy to commit access device fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Drukan said.

G-Sellassie pleaded guilty in March. He was arrested in Seattle in June 2011 when Chase bank security personnel told police he was attempting to make withdrawals from compromised accounts from Las Vegas, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office release.

At the time of his arrest, G-Sellassie had 22 gift cards that had been turned into counterfeit debit cards. He took more than $435,000 from 639 victims, the attorney’s office said. He allegedly compromised more than 2,000 accounts.

“He was very active in Portland” and along the Interstate 5 corridor, said U.S. attorney’s spokeswoman Emily Langlie, adding that it doesn’t appear any of the cases were from Vancouver.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force.