News and Press Releases

Spanish National Pleads Guilty To ATM Skimming

October 18, 2010

PITTSBURGH, Pa. ‑ A foreign national from Spain pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring with a Romanian national to install electronic skimming devices on PNC Bank ATMs located throughout Western Pennsylvania in April and May of this year, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Felipe Juan Lopez, 34, of Spain, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, access device fraud and identity theft before United States District Judge Terrence F. McVerry.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Lopez and another person were captured on ATM surveillance cameras installing electronic skimming equipment designed to secretly record customer bank account information when a customer used a debit or credit card to access their account. Lopez was apprehended with his co‑conspirator when attempting to leave the Candlewood Suites Hotel in Pittsburgh in May of this year. The prosecutor stated that over 200 PNC customer account numbers were believed to have been compromised, with losses between $120,000 to $200,000 dollars.

Judge McVerry scheduled sentencing for Jan. 18, 2011. The law provides for a total sentence of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court continued the order of detention, and Lopez will remain in federal custody pending sentencing.

Assistant United States Attorney Gregory C. Melucci is prosecuting this case on behalf of the United States of America.

Agents from the United States Secret Service and law enforcement officers of the Western Pennsylvania Financial Crimes Task Force conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Lopez. The Financial Crimes Task Force is comprised of federal and state law enforcement offices committed to the investigation and prosecution of financial crimes and identity theft.

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