Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force:
ROMANIAN CITIZEN PLEADS GUILTY TO FEDERAL BANK FRAUD
CHARGE STEMMING FROM ROLE IN ATM “SKIMMING” SCHEME
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ION CONSTANTINE, also known as “Tarzan,” 34, a citizen of Romania last residing in Glendale, New York, pleaded guilty today before United States Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud stemming from his participation in an ATM “skimming” scheme.
According to court documents and statements made in court, CONSTANTINE, his wife Laura Stiuca, Nadia Pasici and Sabrina Matache conspired to install “skimming” devices on automated teller machines (“ATMs”), and on card swipe access devices used by banks to control access to ATM lobby doors, at People’s United Bank locations in Connecticut. The devices were able to capture the information encoded on the magnetic strips of bank cards used by ATM customers. The co-conspirators also placed devices on the ATMs that contained hidden pinhole cameras, which were positioned in such a way as to be able to record the personal identification numbers that bank customers keyed into the ATMs to gain access to their accounts. The co-conspirators then used this stolen information to create counterfeit bank cards that allowed them to withdraw funds from the customers’ accounts.
In March and April 2010, Stiuca and Pasici, at CONSTANTINE’s direction, used a pin-capturing device at an ATM located at a branch of People’s United Bank in Cos Cob, Connecticut. Then, between April 19 and April 22, STIUCA and Matache used stolen bank account information to conduct unauthorized ATM withdrawals from People’s United Bank ATMs in Stamford and Darien.
On April 22, 2010, Stiuca, Pasici and Matache were arrested by members of the Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force at a branch of People’s United Bank in Darien. At the time of the arrests, the defendants possessed approximately $2000 in cash, handwritten notes with addresses of People’s United Bank locations, ATM skimming tools and other items used in the conspiracy.
CONSTANTINE is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant on October 31, 2011, at which time CONSTANTINE faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years and a fine of up to $1 million.
CONSTANTINE was arrested on March 23, 2011. He has been detained since his arrest.
Stiuca, Pasici and Matche also have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
This investigation has been conducted by the Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force, which includes members of the United States Secret Service; the United States Postal Inspection Service; the United States Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security; the Connecticut State Police; and the Glastonbury, Greenwich, Hartford, New Haven and Shelton Police Departments. U.S. Attorney Fein specifically recognized the efforts of the Spanish National Police; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s Office of Fraud Detection and National Security for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution of this matter. People’s United Bank assisted the investigation.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Douglas P. Morabito and Susan L. Wines.
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