News and Press Releases

Romanian National Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy In Skimming Operation

February 3, 2011

PITTSBURGH, Pa. ‑ A Romanian National pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of conspiring with another Romanian National to skim customer account information from PNC Bank ATM machines in Western Pennsylvania, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Mihai Popa, 39, pleaded guilty to one count of Conspiracy before Senior United States District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that between November 2009 and April, 2010, Mihai Popa, along with Alexandru Razvan Serb, conspired to skim PNC Bank customer account information using an electronic skimming device at PNC ATM's in Western Pennsylvania. The Government's estimate of losses is between $200,000 and $400,000.

Judge Ambrose scheduled sentencing for May 16, 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 for Popa.

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

Agents from the United States Secret Service and detectives from Allegheny County District Attorney's Office who, as part of the Western Pennsylvania Financial Crimes Task Force,  conducted the investigation that led to the Indictment in this case.  The Western Pennsylvania Financial Crimes Task Force (WPFCTF) was established in February, 1995 as a collaborative, multi-agency effort to effectively combat financial crimes, including identity fraud, in Western Pennsylvania. Partnering in this effort is the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the United States Secret Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office, the Allegheny County Police Department, the City of Pittsburgh Police Department and the  Pennsylvania State Police.

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