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Leaders Of ATM Skimming Scheme In Ocean, Monmouth Counties in Court Wednesday

Identity theft ring stole more than $5 million, authorities say

Leaders Of ATM Skimming Scheme In Ocean, Monmouth Counties in Court Wednesday
Numerous leaders of what authorities have called an ATM "skimming" scheme that impacted Ocean and Monmouth counties were in federal court today in North Jersey.

The defendants in the case, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said, sought to steal from account information from bank customers by installing secret card-reading devices on ATM machines.

The ATM skimming operation involving Romanian nationals living in the New York City borough of Queens is one of the largest ever uncovered by law enforcement, authorities said.

Bogdan Radu, 31, of Queens, N.Y., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court to a charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and a single count of aggravated identity theft.

Marius Vintila, 31, of Queens, was arraigned before Martini after being charged in a six-count indictment on Feb.18, 2014, with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to possess 15 or more counterfeit access devices, possession of 15 or more counterfeit access devices, conspiracy to possess access device-making equipment and possession of access device-making equipment.

Also today, Constantin Ginga, 53, who previously pleaded guilty before Martini to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, was sentenced to 57 months in prison and two years of supervised release. Restitution will be determined at a later date.

On Feb. 25, 2014, another defendant, Marius Cotiga, 35, pleaded guilty to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

The identity theft ring targeted ATM machines in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

According to court documents, Radu admitted designing and creating ATM skimming devices and pinhole cameras. Each skimmer, an electronic device, would read and record identity and account information contained in the magnetic strip of a customer’s ATM card. The pinhole camera secretly recorded bank customers’ keystrokes as they entered their personal identification numbers. Radu taught others how to install them on bank ATMs, and gave his conspirators the devices and pinhole cameras to install on bank ATMs throughout New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Florida.

After capturing customer account information, Radu and others created counterfeit ATM cards they used to withdraw millions of dollars in cash from bank ATMs. From June 2012 through July 2013, they used these devices and cameras to defraud Wells Fargo, Citibank and TD Bank of $5 million, prosecutors said.

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