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Press Release

Romanian scammer sentenced for using card skimmers to commit bank fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

NORFOLK, Va. – A Romanian national was sentenced today to one year and six months in prison for using card skimmers to steal credit and debit card information and defraud banks.

According to court documents, from September of 2022 through August of 2023, Cristian Romica Ristea, 52, stole credit and debit card information across the East Coast of the United States. Ristea installed and maintain portable card reading devices, known as “skimmers,” in ATMs and installed pin hole cameras to obtain PIN numbers.

On Aug. 17, 2023, law enforcement officers observed Ristea conduct an illegal transaction at a Bank of America ATM in Chesapeake. Afterward, the officers arrested Ristea and conducted a search of his vehicle, in which they found 36 Vanilla Visa cards, skimming tools, a skimming device, and an international driver license in the name of “Christan Weber.” Law enforcement then searched the home Ristea was renting and found additional skimming tools and skimming devices. Ristea possessed 91 vanilla gift cards that were encoded with stolen information. One financial institution estimated that 289 card numbers were compromised.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Kang Lee, Resident Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s Norfolk Resident Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Jamar K. Walker.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Heck prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:23-cr-142.


Press Officer

Updated June 5, 2024

Financial Fraud