Alleged Members Of ATM Skimming Scheme Targeting New Jersey Bank Customers In Court For Guilty Plea, Sentencing
NEWARK, N.J. — Two of the leaders of a scheme to steal account information from bank customers throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut by installing secret card-reading devices on ATMs were in court today for separate proceedings, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Bogdan Radu, 31, of Queens, N.Y., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Marius Vintila, 31, of Queens, was arraigned before Judge 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. The ATM skimming operation involving Romanian nationals living in Queens is one of the largest ever uncovered by law enforcement.
Also today, Constantin Ginga, 53, who previously pleaded guilty before Judge 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.
According to documents filed in these and related cases and statements made in court:
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.
Vintila worked with Radu to design and create the skimming devices and pinhole cameras and recruited individuals, including Cotiga and Ginga, to install them on bank ATMs. Vintila also used an alias to rent multiple self-storage units, in which he stored the contents of an entire skimming operation, including skimming devices, pinhole cameras, super glue, tape, SD cards, batteries, computers, molds, fraudulent ATM cards and cash proceeds. He was apprehended in Sweden and extradited to the United States on Feb. 7, 2014.
Cotiga and Ginga admitted they installed skimmers and pinhole cameras at bank ATMs and subsequently used counterfeit ATM cards to withdraw cash from bank ATMs. Cotiga, Ginga and others stole approximately $985,000 from Citibank ATMs in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
The charges to which Radu and Cotiga pleaded guilty arose from a larger investigation into a skimming scheme that targeted customers in the tri-state area in 2012 and early 2013. Of the 11 others charged in the scheme, all Romanian nationals who lived in Queens, 10 are in custody.
The bank fraud conspiracy charge to which Radu and Cotiga each pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The aggravated identity theft charge to which Radu pleaded guilty carries a mandatory, consecutive penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencings for Radu and Cotiga are currently scheduled for June 5, 2014.
U.S. Attorney Fishman praised special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James Mottola, along with special agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations in Newark, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Andrew M. McLees, with the investigation. He also thanked the Englewood, N.J., Police Department for their role in effecting Ginga’s arrest.
The charges and allegations against the other defendants charged in the pending complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Agarwal and David Eskew of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.
Radu: John P. McGovern Esq., Newark
Vintila: Chris Adams Esq., Colts Neck, N.J.
Ginga: Warren Sutnick Esq., Hackensack, N.J.
Cotiga: John Weichsel Esq., Hackensack