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Press Release

Member Of Large-Scale ATM Skimming Scheme Sentenced To 57 Months In Prison For Role In Bank Fraud Conspiracy

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

NEWARK, N.J. – A native of Romania who was arrested in Spain and extradited to the United States was sentenced today to 57 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to steal bank account information from thousands of customers by installing secret card-reading devices and pinhole cameras on ATMs throughout New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Florida, and elsewhere, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. 

Robert Mate, a/k/a “Chioru,” a/k/a “Marcel Varga,” 31, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court to Count One of an indictment charging him conspiracy to commit bank fraud.   

According to documents filed in this and other cases as well as statements made in court:

Mate participated as a high-level member of a vast “ATM skimming” scheme that stole bank account information by installing secret card-reading devices on ATMs throughout New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Florida, and elsewhere. The scheme, which ultimately defrauded Citibank, TD Bank, Wells Fargo, and multiple other financial institutions out of at least $5 million and impacted thousands of customers, was organized by Marius Vintila, 34, also a native of Romania.

Vintila and Bogdan Radu, 34, designed and constructed sophisticated card-reader devices and pinhole camera panels capable of reading and storing customers’ bank account information and personal identification numbers. Mate and others then secretly installed the devices onto bank ATMs and removed them a few days later after they had recorded customer bank account information as customers performed routine bank transactions.

Afterwards, the stolen data was used to create thousands of false and fraudulent ATM cards, which Mate and others used to withdraw millions of dollars from customers’ bank accounts.    

The ATM skimming operation in which Mate participated is one of the largest ever uncovered by law enforcement. To date, 15 of the 16 individuals that have been charged in connection with this scheme, including Mate, Vintila and Radu, have been convicted. Ionut Vasile Ciurba-Stana, a/k/a “Ciorba,” 30, remains at large.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Martini sentenced Mate to five years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $7,397,270.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, Newark Field

Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Mark McKevitt, and special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Terence S. Opiola in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. 

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

Defense Counsel: Angelo Servidio Esq., Nutley, New Jersey

Updated December 13, 2016

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 16-351