Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Medford Man arrested: Counterfeit MBTA Passes

Medford Man Arrested in Connection with Manufacturing, Distribution of Counterfeit MBTA Passes
BOSTON – A Medford man has been arrested in connection with an alleged scheme to manufacture and distribute counterfeit Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) passes, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
Casey Kolenda, age 27, was arrested without incident yesterday at his Medford home by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office and MBTA Transit Police Detectives. He is charged with five counts of Counterfeiting with Value over $10,000.
Kolenda is due to be arraigned this morning in Somerville District Court.
“We allege that this defendant orchestrated a scheme to manufacture and distribute counterfeit MBTA passes for his own personal gain while defrauding the Commonwealth of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” AG Coakley said. “Our investigation with the MBTA remains ongoing.”
“Demonstrating again that the MBTA will not tolerate fraud, Transit Police detectives worked closely with State Police investigators and the Attorney General’s office to bring these charges forward,” said MBTA Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan. “Our honest, fare-paying customers deserve and expect our full attention to this type of illegal activity. Let this serve as a warning to anybody else who thinks they can perpetrate such fraud.”
The investigation began in August 2013, after the MBTA Transit Police discovered the existence of hundreds of unauthorized tickets in use by riders on the MBTA’s subway and bus systems. The AG’s Office and the Massachusetts State Police joined the investigation into the production and distribution of alleged forged tickets in September 2013. Through that investigation, authorities identified multiple monthly Link Passes that were purchased legitimately and subsequently used to create hundreds of forged tickets used by riders.
Authorities allege that Kolenda orchestrated a scheme to fraudulently create counterfeit $70 monthly MBTA subway and bus passes, known as “Link Passes,” between October 2013 and March 2014. The investigation revealed that the electronic data stored on the Link Pass magnetic strip was copied using a magnetic strip reader, also known as a “skimmer.” The electronic data was downloaded onto the magnetic strips of hundreds of MBTA stored-value cards that Kolenda purchased for as little as five cents at ticket kiosks. Kolenda then disguised the forged passes by applying contact paper that bore the production history of the original Link Pass, as well as the MBTA’s trademarked “T” logo. Similar in appearance and now encoded with the electronic data copied from the Link Pass, the counterfeit cards could be used at any MBTA fare gate in the same manner as the original pass.
The joint investigation revealed that hundreds of counterfeit passes bearing the electronic data of the original were distributed and used on a monthly basis by MBTA riders, sometimes more than 15,000 times in one month. Investigators estimate that the lost revenue attributable to the forged tickets manufactured and distributed by Kolenda approaches $200,000.
State Police officers assigned to the AG’s Office arrested Kolenda and then executed a search warrant at his residence yesterday afternoon. He is due to be arraigned today in Somerville District Court. Authorities allege that Kolenda manufactured the counterfeit passes at his home.
The criminal investigation is active and ongoing. These charges are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Assistant Attorneys General Greg Friedholm and Gina Masotta of the AG’s Public Integrity Division are prosecuting this case. MBTA Transit Police detectives, State Police assigned to the AG’s Office, and Financial Investigator Bryan Freitas were instrumental in this ongoing investigation.