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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 9, 2021

Romanian National Extradited to U.S. for Multi-State ATM Skimming Scheme

BOSTON – A Romanian national was extradited from Germany to the District of Massachusetts to face racketeering conspiracy charges relating to an ATM skimming operation throughout Massachusetts and other states including Connecticut, New York and South Carolina. 

Dragush Nelo Hornea, 26, was charged in a May 2017 indictment on one count of conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity (more commonly known as RICO conspiracy) and one count of conspiracy to use counterfeit access devices. Dragush Hornea was detained in federal custody following an initial appearance in federal court in Boston this afternoon.

According to the charging documents, Dragush Hornea was a member of the Hornea Crew (Crew), led by co-conspirators Constantin Denis Hornea and Ludemis Hornea, and engaged in ATM skimming – obtaining debit card numbers and PINs from unsuspecting bank customers, creating counterfeit cards, and making unauthorized withdrawals from the victims’ bank accounts. In total, the skimming activities resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.

Specifically, it is alleged that over a period of 18 months, Dragush Hornea and his co-conspirators engaged in a scheme to steal debit card numbers and PINs from unsuspecting ATM customers in Massachusetts, Connecticut, South Carolina, Georgia and other locations within the United States. In particular, members of the Crew installed skimming devices in the following locations: Amherst, Bellingham, Billerica, Braintree, Chicopee, Quincy, Southwick, Waltham, Weymouth, and Whately, Mass.; Enfield, Conn.; Columbia, Greenville, Greenwood, Mauldin, and Saluda, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; and Yadkinville, N.C. The stolen information was then used by Hornea and other coconspirators to clone the victim customers’ debit cards and make unauthorized withdrawals from those victim customers’ bank accounts at ATMs throughout the United States.

Dragush Hornea was charged with 13 co-defendants in a May 2017 indictment. Thus far, all co-defendants have been convicted and those sentenced have received sentences ranging from one year and one day to 65 months in prison.

The charge of conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fine of $250,000. The charge of conspiracy to use counterfeit access devices provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; John Gibbon, U.S. Marshal for the District of Massachusetts; and Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police made the announcement today. Assistance with the investigation was also provided by the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Postal Service; Massachusetts Department of Correction; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the Amherst, Billerica, Braintree, Boston, Quincy, Southwick, Waltham, Whately, and Westwood Police Departments; Connecticut State Police; Greenwich Police Department; the New York City Police Department; Houston Police Department; South Carolina Law Enforcement Division; Richland County (South Carolina) Sheriff’s Department; Florence and Saluda (South Carolina) Police Departments; and the Solicitor’s Offices of Greenville and Saluda Counties. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy E. Moran of Mendell’s Organized Crime and Gang Unit is prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the indictments are allegations. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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Updated April 9, 2021