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Romanian Native In Large-Scale Atm Skimming Scheme Extradited To The United States

 

NEWARK, N.J. – A native of Romania who was arrested in Spain was arraigned on September 25, 2015following his extradition to face charges that he participated in a large-scale lucrative ATM skimming scheme targeting New Jersey bank customers, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Alin Dumitru Carabus, 41, will appear tomorrow afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda D. Wettre in Newark federal court. He is charged by indictment with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to possess 15 or more counterfeit access devices, and possession of 15 or more counterfeit access devices. One of the other individuals charged in the indictment, Robert Mate, was previously apprehended in Spain and extradited to the United States. The third individual charged in the indictment, Ionut Vasile Ciurba-Stana, has been apprehended in Spain, and a request for extradition is pending. 

According to documents filed in this and other cases and statements made in court:

Carabus participated in an extensive scheme to steal bank customer account information, commonly referred to as “ATM skimming,” by installing secret card-reading devices on ATMs throughout New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Florida, and elsewhere. The scheme was organized by Marius Vintila, 33, who previously pleaded guilty to bank fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft charges. The scheme defrauded Citibank, TD Bank, Wells Fargo, and multiple other financial institutions out of at least $5 million and affected thousands of bank customers.

Vintila and Bogdan Radu designed and constructed sophisticated card-reader devices and pinhole camera panels capable of reading and storing customers’ bank account information and personal identification numbers. Carabus and others then secretly installed the card-reader devices and the pinhole cameras panels onto bank ATMs, and removed them a few days later after they had recorded customer bank account information as customers performed routine bank transactions at ATMs. After the account information was stolen, the stolen data was used to create thousands of false and fraudulent ATM cards, which Carabus and others used to withdraw millions of dollars from customers’ bank accounts. 

The ATM skimming operation in which Carabus participated is one of the largest ever uncovered by law enforcement. To date, 16 individuals have been charged in connection with this scheme. Twelve have pleaded guilty, and one individual, Dinu Horvat, was convicted after a week-long trial.

Carabus is charged with four counts, as described below, which carry the following maximum penalties and fines:

Count

Offense

Maximum Penalty

Maximum Fine

1

Conspiracy to commit bank fraud

Thirty years in prison

$1 million

2

Aggravated identity theft

Mandatory, consecutive penalty of two years in prison

$250,000, or twice the gross pecuniary gain or loss from the offense

5

Conspiracy to possess 15 or more counterfeit access devices

Five years in prison

$250,000, or twice the gross pecuniary gain or loss from the offense

6

Possession of 15 or more counterfeit access devices

Ten years in prison

$250,000, or twice the gross pecuniary gain or loss from the offense

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Carl Agnelli, along with special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Newark, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kelly, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Agarwal and David M. Eskew of the Criminal Division in Newark.

Defense counsel: Christopher Patella Esq., Bayonne, New Jersey

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