Conspirator in ATM Skimming Scheme Pleads Guilty
Conspirators Operated on the Eastern Shore and Elsewhere
Baltimore, Maryland - Serghei Rotaru, age 22, is a citizen of Moldova temporarily residing in Salisbury, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit access device fraud in connection with a scheme to use skimming devices to obtain debit and credit card account numbers and personal identification numbers.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Special Agent in Charge Barbara Golden of the United States Secret Service – Baltimore Field Office; Cambridge Police Chief Kenneth W. Malik; and Wicomico County Sheriff Michael A. Lewis.
According to Rotaru’s plea, on December 16, 2011, Rotaru was questioned after a Cambridge Police Officer saw him walking away from a bank ATM where he had just used a counterfeit access device, that is, a Walmart gift card encoded with stolen account information, to make unauthorized withdrawals from the accounts of customers, withdrawing $800. Officers found the cash and a Walmart gift card with a PIN written on a piece of paper taped to the card in Rotaru’s possession. Rotaru also possessed multiple other gift cards encoded with stolen account information that he left at the location where officers questioned him.
On January 19, 2012, in furtherance of the conspiracy, co-defendant Pavel Rosca rented a car at the airport in Salisbury, Maryland and added Serghei Rotaru as a driver for the vehicle in the rental agreement. Rosca and Rotaru then traveled to the state of Georgia where they met up with an additional co-conspirator. During their stay in Georgia, the co-conspirators traveled to various banks in Georgia and also to a storage facility containing equipment used for ATM skimming, including Walmart gift cards and a magnetic strip card reader, and assorted computer equipment.
Between January 19 and January 21, 2012, Rotaru, Rosca, and a third co-conspirator returned from Georgia to Maryland with ATM skimming devices and with approximately $21,080 in proceeds from skimming activity. On January 21, 2012, the car rented by Rosca and driven by Rotaru was pulled over by officers of the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Department. During the traffic stop and a subsequent inventory search of the vehicle, officers located three ATM skimming devices and the cash. Officers also located the rental agreement for the storage facility located in Smyrna, Georgia that contained the skimming equipment.
Rotaru faces a maximum sentence of 7 1/2 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett scheduled his sentencing for May 11, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. Co-defendant Pavel Rosca, age 24, also a Moldovan citizen residing in Salisbury, previously pleaded guilty to the same charge for his role in the conspiracy. Judge Bennett has scheduled his sentencing for May 10, 2012, at 3:00 p.m.
This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the ICE-HSI Baltimore Office, U.S. Secret Service, Cambridge Police Department and Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein praised Assistant U.S. Attorneys P. Michael Cunningham and Kristi N. O’Malley, who are prosecuting the case.