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Press Release

Romanian Man Arraigned for Capital Region ATM Skimming Conspiracy Following Extradition from Colombia

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York

ALBANY, NEW YORK - Gheorghe Cirstea, age 31, and a citizen of Romania, was arraigned today on charges that he worked with others to steal account information and personal identification numbers (PINs) from people using ATMs in the Capital Region in 2015.

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

On March 30, 2018, Cirstea was arrested while travelling through Bogota, Colombia.  On October 19, 2018, he was formally extradited by Colombian authorities to the United States.  Cirstea was arraigned today in Albany before United States Magistrate Judge Christian F. Hummel, who ordered him detained pending trial.

The charges in the indictment are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The indictment charges Cirstea and Ilie Sitariu with conspiring to steal bank customers’ account information and PINs by using skimming devices that they secretly installed on bank ATMs in the Capital Region from August to October 2015.

Sitariu, who was arrested in September 2015, pled guilty on November 22, 2016, and was sentenced to 48 months in prison by Senior United States District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn on May 10, 2017.

If convicted, Cirstea faces up to 5 years in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000.  A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.

This case is being investigated by the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, and the New York State Police, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emmet O’Hanlon. Cirstea was extradited to the United States with the assistance of the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs.

Updated December 21, 2018

Financial Fraud