BOSTON - A Romanian national pleaded guilty today in federal court in Springfield in connection with a multi-state ATM card skimming scheme.
Bogdan Viorel Rusu, 38, a Romanian national formerly residing in Queens, N.Y., pleaded guilty to an Information that charged him with one count each of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft. U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni scheduled sentencing for Dec. 11, 2018. Rusu was arrested on Nov. 14, 2016, and initially charged by complaint in the District of New Jersey and has been in custody since.
From approximately Aug. 3, 2014, until his arrest on Nov. 14, 2016, Rusu engaged in a widespread bank fraud conspiracy that targeted various banks in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. Rusu and his co-conspirators captured payment card account information from customers as they accessed their accounts through ATMs and then used that information to steal money from the customers’ bank accounts.
To capture the account information, Rusu and/or his co-conspirators installed electronic devices, i.e., skimming devices, which surreptitiously recorded customers’ bank account information on the banks’ card-readers at the vestibule door, the ATM machine, or both. In addition, Rusu and/or his co-conspirators installed other devices (generally either pinhole cameras or keypad overlays) in order to record the keystrokes of bank customers as they entered their personal identification numbers to access their bank accounts. After enough customers accessed the ATM machine, Rusu and/or his co-conspirators removed the skimming devices. They then transferred the illegally obtained information from the skimming devices and pinhole cameras to counterfeit payment cards. Finally, they visited other ATM machines with the counterfeit cards to obtain cash from the skimmed bank accounts before the bank or the customers became aware of their illicit conduct.
As a result of the scheme, $364,419 was lost in Massachusetts and $75,715 in New York (totaling $440,134 from 531 individual accounts), and another $428,581 was stolen in New Jersey.
The charges of bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy each provide for a sentence of no greater than 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $1 million. The charge of aggravated identity theft provides for a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed, one year of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss and restitution.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Stephen Marks, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service, Boston Field Division; Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; East Longmeadow Police Chief Jeffrey Dalessio; and Medford Police Chief Leo Sacco made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven H. Breslow of Lelling’s Springfield Branch Office and Trial Attorney Marianne Shelvey of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Gang Section are prosecuting the case.