NEWARK, N.J. – Twelve men were charged as part of a scheme that used secret card-reading devices and pinhole cameras installed on PNC and Bank of America ATMs to steal at least $428,581, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey and Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Criminal Division announced today.
Bogdan Viorel Rusu, 36, of Howard Beach, New York; Marcel Peckham, a/k/a “Marcel Enescu Cismas,” 43, of Little Neck, New York; Catalin Mihai Dragomir, 32, of Glendale, New York; Eduard Vasilica Ticu, 28, of Glendale; Stefan Dumitru, 28, of Astoria, New York; 39, an unidentified defendant known as “Zoltan Nagy,” 39 of Bayside, New York; Silvester Florentin Papp, 24, of Ridgewood, New York; Joel Abel Garcia, 34, of Bronx, New York; Vasilica Adrian Hanganu, 35, of Bayside; Florian Calin Crainic, 46, of Des Plaines, Illinois; Gabriel Mares, 43, of College Point, New York; and his brother Florin Mares, 48, of College Point, are each charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
All of the defendants were arrested yesterday and this morning, with the exception of Nagy, who is still at large. Those who were apprehended, with the exception of Crainic, appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court. Crainic was scheduled to appear today in Illinois federal court.
According to the complaint:
The scheme, which was allegedly led by Rusu, sought to defraud financial institutions and their customers by illegally obtaining customer account information, including account numbers and personal identification numbers. Between March 2015 and July 2016, the conspirators allegedly installed electronic equipment at ATMs at several banks across New Jersey. The “skimming” equipment included pinhole cameras and electronic devices capable of recording bank customer information encoded on the magnetic stripe of credit and debit cards.
The conspirators then transferred the stolen card data to counterfeit bank cards and subsequently used that data to withdraw cash from the compromised accounts. For example, on one occasion in January 2016, one of the defendants used counterfeit ATM cards encoded with stolen bank account information at four different Bank of America locations on the same day.
The conspirators are alleged to have stolen at least $428,581 from Bank of America.
U.S. Attorney Fishman and Assistant Attorney General Caldwell credited special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Terence Opiola in Newark, as well as the U.S. Secret Service’s Boston and New York field offices and the East Longmeadow, Cambridge, and Medford, Massachusetts, police departments with the investigation. They also thanked the Middlesex County, Massachusetts, DA’s office; the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts Springfield Division, as well as the Bank of America Security and Fraud Section, the PNC Bank Security Division and TD Bank, for their assistance in this case.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Graves of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark and Trial Attorney Marianne Shelvey of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division Organized Crime and Gang Section.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.