SANTA ANA, California – A Romanian man was found guilty by a judge today of stealing victims’ identities to withdraw money from their public-assistance accounts without their permission.
Florin Duduianu, 39, whose last known residence was in Mission Viejo, was found guilty by United States District Judge John W. Holcomb after a two-day bench trial of two counts of aggravated identity theft.
According to evidence presented at trial, in August 2023, law enforcement was conducting an operation to combat Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) fraud at various banks and ATMs in Placentia. Police saw Duduianu, accompanied by a passenger, drive up to a Wells Fargo ATM and make multiple withdrawals on different cards. Based on this information, officers pulled Duduianu over. Duduianu lied to the officers, telling them he was depositing, not withdrawing, money from the ATM.
During a search of Duduianu’s passenger, officers found four Visa gift cards, three Wells Fargo ATM receipts, and $1,850 in cash. The Visa gift cards were encoded with EBT card numbers. Those numbers were run through an EBT database, which showed that they belonged to four different people. Based on the Wells Fargo receipts, Duduianu used two of the cards to make three withdrawals totaling $1,850 from the ATM.
Police contacted the accountholders for the two EBT accounts from which Duduianu made withdrawals. The accountholders said that they did not know Duduianu or his car passenger and did not give permission to anyone to withdraw funds from their accounts.
During a search of Duduianu’s cellphone, law enforcement found dozens of photos and videos related to ATM skimming as well as tools and techniques used to skim EBT information. Law enforcement also found photos of large sums of cash and hundreds of EBT numbers from multiple states. In the chat history of Duduianu’s phone, the government found an article about EBT fraud that was sent from his phone to four other phone numbers.
On another smartphone law enforcement recovered during Duduianu’s arrest, law enforcement found additional videos related to ATM skimming. Phone records and EBT records showed that this phone was used to check the balance of the EBT accounts of the victims in this case, five days before Duduianu withdrew $1,850 from those same accounts.
Previously in this case, Duduianu pleaded guilty on January 5 to three counts of bank fraud and unlawful use of unauthorized access devices.
Judge Holcomb scheduled a March 29 sentencing hearing, at which time he will face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for each bank fraud count, up to 20 years in federal prison for the unauthorized access devices count, and a mandatory two-year prison sentence consecutive to his underlying sentence for each aggravated identity theft count.
The FBI and the Placentia Police Department investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorneys David Y. Pi of the Major Frauds Section and Diane B. Roldán of the General Crimes Section are prosecuting this case.