Man Sentenced to 58 Months in Federal Prison for Fraud Involving Counterfeit Debit Cards and ATM Skimming Scheme
United States Attorney Matthew D. Krueger has announced that on December 19, 2018, Judge J.P. Stadtmueller, District Court Judge in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, sentenced Ionel Muresanu, 18, to 58 months in federal prison following his conviction for multiple offenses involving the possession and use of counterfeit debit cards. Muresanu, a native of Craiova, Romania, is subject to deportation upon the completion of that sentence.
On September 11, 2018, Muresanu was convicted by a federal jury of one count of Possession of 15 or More Counterfeit Access Devices, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1029 (a)(3), and three counts of Aggravated Identity Theft, in violation 18 U.S.C. Section 1028A (1). In addition to the prison sentence, Stadtmueller, ordered Muresanu to pay $146,721.80 in restitution. He described identity theft as one of the worst crimes he could imagine, noting the far-reaching consequences for unsuspecting victims.
At trial, the jury heard testimony that Muresanu, along with a juvenile companion, participated in an ATM skimming scheme, wherein they placed and retrieved “skimmers” and pinhole cameras at ATM machines. The devices captured the account and personal identification numbers of unknowing customers, which another accomplice transferred to the magnetic stripes of generic gift cards. Muresanu and his juvenile companion along with other teams of workers traveled around the country, using the counterfeit cards to extract money from the accounts of unknowing victims.
Muresanu was arrested on May 16, 2018, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin by detectives from the Oshkosh Police Department who investigated based on a tip from Tennessee law enforcement.
At the time of his arrest, Muresanu possessed a total of 80 counterfeit cards. An additional 14 cards were recovered from his juvenile companion and six more cards were recovered at the Oshkosh store where the two were observed using the cards at an ATM.
In his statements to the police, Muresanu admitted that he had placed skimming and pinhole devices on ATM machines in Nashville, Tennessee, Atlanta, Georgia, and Kansas City, Missouri. He told police that after the counterfeit cards were created, he and his accomplices waited for several months before traveling to different states to use the cards. He would get 25% of the stolen proceeds obtained with each batch of cards, and had obtained as much as $30,000 from a single batch. Receipts recovered at the time of his arrest showed that Muresanu and his companion had used some of the recovered cards at ATM’s in Illinois and Wisconsin before they were apprehended.
“This lengthy sentence—nearly five years in federal prison—sends a clear message that identity theft is a serious crime that deserves serious punishment,” said U.S. Attorney Krueger. “I commend the law enforcement agencies for their excellent work in building this case.”
This case was investigated by the Oshkosh Police Department, the United States Secret Service Milwaukee Financial Crimes Task Force, and the Wauwatosa Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Karine Moreno-Taxman and Carol L. Kraft
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