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Press Release

Member of ATM Skimming Conspiracy Pleads Guilty for Targeting Multiple New Jersey Bank Locations

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A member of a scheme that used secret card-reading devices and pinhole cameras on PNC and Bank of America ATMs to steal at least $428,581 pleaded guilty today in Newark federal court.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick of the District of New Jersey; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Brian A. Michael of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Newark, New Jersey, Office made the announcement.

Joel Abel Garcia, 35, a U.S. citizen from Bronx, New York, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas of the District of New Jersey to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Garcia is the third of 13 defendants charged in this matter to plead guilty. Victor A. Hanganu, 35, a Romanian citizen residing in Bayside, New York, pleaded guilty on April 10, 2017, to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Sentencing for Garcia and Hanganu is set for Aug. 2, 2017, and July 31, 2017, respectively.

According to admissions made in connection with the pleas, Garcia, Hanganu and others sought to defraud financial institutions and their customers by illegally obtaining customer account information, including account numbers and personal identification numbers. Garcia and Hanganu both admitted that between March 2015 and July 2016, they used counterfeit ATM cards and stolen customer information to withdraw cash from compromised bank accounts at ATMs in New Jersey. As part of his plea, Hanganu also admitted that as part of the scheme, he installed “skimming” devices on the ATMs, including pinhole cameras that recorded password entries and card-reading devices capable of recording customer information encoded on magnetic strips.

Garcia, Hanganu and others used more than 10 ATM cards to conduct fraudulent cash withdrawals in New Jersey, causing losses of $428,581. Of that sum, $132,805 was personally attributable to Garcia.

In addition to Garcia and Hunganu, Radu Marin, 36, a Romanian citizen residing in Glendale, New York, pleaded guilty on March 29, 2017, to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

The ICE-HSI’s Newark, New Jersey, Division; U.S. Secret Service’s Boston Field Office; Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Police Department; Cambridge, Massachusetts, Police Department; and Medford, Massachusetts, Police Department investigated the case with assistance from Bank of America Security and Fraud Section and PNC Bank Security Division. The Middlesex County, Massachusetts, District Attorney’s Office; U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York and U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Massachusetts Springfield Division assisted in the investigation and prosecution. Trial Attorney Marianne Shelvey of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Graves of the District of New Jersey are prosecuting the case.

Updated April 18, 2017

Press Release Number: 17-417