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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

High-Level Member Of Large-Scale, $5 Million ATM Skimming Scheme Sentenced To More Than Seven Years In Prison

NEWARK, N.J. – A Chicago man was sentenced today to 89 months in prison for his role in a large-scale, long-running, and lucrative scheme to steal bank customer account information – commonly referred to as “ATM skimming” – by installing hidden card-reading devices on ATMs throughout New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Florida, and elsewhere, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Dinu Horvat, 29, was previously convicted on four counts of a superseding indictment – conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to possess 15 or more counterfeit access devices, and conspiracy to possess access device-making equipment – following a one-week trial before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini. Judge Martini imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:

Horvat was a high-level member of an extensive ATM skimming scheme organized by Marius Vintila, 33, who previously pleaded guilty to bank fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft charges. The scheme defrauded Citibank, TD Bank, Wells Fargo, and multiple other financial institutions out of at least $5 million and affected thousands of bank customers.

Vintila and defendant Bogdan Radu, 33, designed and constructed sophisticated card-reader devices and pinhole camera panels capable of reading and storing customers’ bank account information and personal identification numbers. Horvat and his partners then secretly installed the card-reader devices and the pinhole cameras panels onto bank ATMs and removed them a few days later after they had recorded customer bank account information as customers performed routine bank transactions at ATMs.

The stolen data was used to create thousands of false and fraudulent ATM cards, which Horvat and others used to withdraw millions of dollars from customers’ bank accounts. Horvat also recruited others to participate in the scheme.   

In addition to the prison term, Judge Martini sentenced Horvat to five years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $7.4 million.

The ATM skimming operation in which Horvat participated is one of the largest ever uncovered by law enforcement. To date, 13 of the 16 individuals charged in connection with the scheme, including Vintila and Radu, have pleaded guilty.

U.S. Attorney Fishman praised special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, Newark Field Office, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Wood; special agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) in Newark, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Terence S. Opiola, with the investigation. He also thanked the Barnegat Township Police Department and the Brick Township Police Department for their participation in the case.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Agarwal and David M. Eskew of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Defense Counsel: E. Alexander Jardines Esq., West New York, New Jersey          

Financial Fraud
Identity Theft
Press Release Number: 
Updated September 2, 2016