United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
Member Of Prolific Romanian “Skimming” Ring Sentenced To Five Years In Prison
Defendant Entered U.S. Illegally and Joined Ring Raiding Bank Accounts for More than $250,000
DAN PETRI, 35, a citizen of Romania who resided in Kirkland, Washington, prior to his arrest, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to five years in prison, five years of supervised release and $247,783 in restitution for bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. PETRI is a member of an international criminal group who raided bank accounts by installing high tech devices on ATMs to capture customer account numbers and PINs. In imposing the sentence U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said PETRI belonged to an “international multi-million dollar crime ring” targeting Americans and the American banking system.
PETRI and his coconspirators used “skimmers” to obtain account numbers and PINs and then made duplicate cards. Using the PIN numbers, they raided hundreds of customer bank accounts, withdrawing large amounts of cash. According to court filings, on three days in October 2010, PETRI and a coconspirator made more than 100 fraudulent withdrawals from customer accounts. On one day in November 2010, they were able to withdraw more than $29,000 from customer accounts. Some of the money was wired back to family and associates in Romania. Some of the account numbers and personal information was sent from associates in Europe to the men in Seattle so they could raid the European accounts at ATMs here.
PETRI was arrested by Bothell Police on December 2, 2010, after a citizen reported seeing him and his associate loitering around an ATM at a Chase Bank branch. The men are linked to fraudulent withdrawals from more than 300 victims. The loss amount attributed to the ring is more than $276, 838.
At the sentencing hearing, prosecutors told Judge Lasnik that PETRI had traveled to Canada posing as a musician. Then he was able to sneak across the border into New York. Petri “came here through fraud to defraud,” prosecutors told the judge. PETRI will likely be deported following his prison sentence.
Judge Lasnik noted that “These ID theft crimes in general are incredibly difficult for people, even if they lose no money… It is an incredible hassle in terms of time and hassle and energy” to straighten out your accounts.
In asking for a significant period of incarceration prosecutors wrote: “During his time here in the United States, PETRI fraudulently drew upon the savings of unwitting people treating their bank accounts as his personal piggy bank. What is more, there is no indication that he intended to stop or reform his ways. Rather, the indication is that PETRI came here driven by greed and with the intent to defraud and would have continued into perpetuity or at least until he returned to Romania where he could continue to reap the financial windfall of his fraud-saturated stint in the United States.”
The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Steven Masada.