Safe deposit boxes in Ukraine, Russia, North Macedonia, Moldova, Latvia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and France were raided, federal authorities said
Three Brooklyn men have been arrested on money laundering charges for an alleged ‘Hollywood-style’ heist where they used high-tech equipment to steal $30million in valuables from bank vaults across Europe.
Val Cooper, 56, Alex Levin, 52, and Garri Smith, 49, allegedly targeted more than two dozen banks in seven countries over the course of four years, and then sent the profits back to the US, prosecutors say.
The trio posed as legitimate customers and rented their own safety deposit boxes in ‘foreign banks that appeared to lack certain security features, including video surveillance cameras in certain areas’, according to the federal indictment.
Once inside the vault, they used high tech camera equipment like a borescope, which is typically used in medical procedures, to photograph the inside lock mechanisms of other people’s boxes, prosecutors said.
Those photos were allegedly used to make duplicate keys, allowing them to return to the vault and simply open other people’s boxes to steal the items inside.
The group made off with currency, gold bars, jewelry and other valuables, and sent the proceeds to bank accounts in the United States, according to court documents.
Smith and a co-conspirator were allegedly caught on security cameras in a bank vault during a heist in Riga, Latvia.
When asked, federal prosecutors said they couldn’t comment on the exact number of banks they hit, their exact locations, or how they were ultimately caught.
Smith was ordered held without bail following his arrest Tuesday, according to defense attorney Jeremy M. Landolo, who declined comment.
There were also unnamed co-conspirators listed in the indictment.
Three Brooklyn men were arrested and accused of stealing more than $30 million in cash and other valuables from safe deposit boxes in banks across Europe, federal authorities said. https://t.co/bfnarsUJLD— NBC New York (@NBCNewYork) April 23, 2021
If convicted of money laundering conspiracy, the defendants face up to 20 years in imprisonment.
They only face money laundering charges in the US, rather than theft, because the alleged heists were carried out in other countries.