Federal Charges Filed Against 21 Persons for Trafficking in Stolen and Counterfeit Credit Cards
Las Vegas, Nev. - Two groups of individuals who allegedly roamed the continental United States stealing credit cards, manufacturing counterfeit driver's licenses, and obtaining cash advances at Nevada casinos, have been indicted on federal racketeering and fraud charges, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Altogether, 21 persons were charged in two Indictments returned by the Federal Grand Jury on May 11, 2004. The Indictments have been sealed to permit law enforcement officers to execute arrest warrants for the defendants. The Indictments allege that the defendants were members of two criminal organizations which engaged in the theft, trafficking, and production of stolen and counterfeit credit cards and drivers' licenses as part of a scheme to obtain money by false pretenses. The defendants are charged variously with Conspiracy to Participate in a Racketeering Enterprise, Conspiracy to Traffic In and Use Unauthorized Access Devices, Trafficking In and Use of Unauthorized Access Devices, Conspiracy to Traffic In and Use Unauthorized and Counterfeit Access Devices, Conspiracy to Produce, Use and Traffic in Counterfeit Access Devices, and Possession or Transfer of a Document-Making Implement.
Members allegedly acted individually or in teams at various locations throughout the United States. They are alleged to have preserved and protected the power, territory and profits of the organization through intimidation, threats of violence, assaults, and murder. On January 25, 2002, in Las Vegas, Nevada, it is alleged that FLORIN IANCU, EDUARD ANDRONESCU, and ROUBEN KIRAKOSSIAN became involved in a conflict with members of a rival credit card theft organization, and that KIRAKOSSIAN allegedly shot Gheorghe Bogdan, a member of the rival organization, resulting in his death.
The Indictments allege that members of both organizations stole credit cards from vehicles parked near trail heads and recreation areas in and around Nevada and California, and from gym lockers at fitness facilities located throughout the United States. Members transported the stolen credit cards to Las Vegas, Nevada, where they manufactured counterfeit drivers' licenses bearing the names and photographs of co-conspirators or "runners." The runners then made purchases with the illegal credit cards, but primarily traveled from casino to casino in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada, Atlantic City, New Jersey, and elsewhere, using the stolen credit cards to make multiple cash advances.
It is also alleged that members of one organization acquired technology that permitted them to copy or "skim" credit card account numbers and electro-magnetic identifiers rather than stealing the credit cards, and that they covertly placed small video cameras near targeted ATMs to record personal identification numbers required to electronically access bank and credit card accounts.
Search warrants were executed at five locations. Agents recovered credit card "blanks", stolen credit cards, and an ATM machine. As of today, nine of the 21 defendants have been arrested. Warrants are outstanding for the remaining defendants.
This case is being investigated by Special Agents with the FBI, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy S. Vasquez. Also assisting in the investigation, arrests, and execution of search warrants is the United States Secret Service, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Nevada Gaming Control Board and Truckee Police Department.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.