Romanian Man Sentenced in ATM Skimming Scheme
United States Attorney Richard W. Moore of the Southern District of Alabama announced that January 22, 2020, Alex Barbu was sentenced in federal court to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Barbu received a thirty-nine month custody sentence for his part in an ATM skimming operation. The sentence consisted of 15 months on the bank fraud charge, and 24 months for aggravated identity theft. Senior United States District Judge Callie V.S. Granade also ordered that Barbu serve five years of supervised release following his release from prison, and pay $4,848.35 in restitution. Upon his release from prison, Barbu, a Romanian national, will be turned over to immigration authorities for deportation proceedings.
In a guilty plea hearing, the court found that on January 12th and 19th, 2019, a young female accompanied by Barbu was observed via surveillance footage placing an unauthorized camera device on an ATM owned and operated by United Bank in Bay Minette, AL. The camera was used to illegally capture a customer's PIN as it was being entered on the ATM keypad. The young female then placed an ATM-skimmer on the same ATM. ATM skimmers are illegal devices designed to fit over the ATM card insert, known as a bezel, in order to read and siphon ATM customer bank account information when the bank customer uses their bank card at the ATM. Later the same day the young female was observed via surveillance footage returning to the ATM and retrieving both the camera and skimming devices.
During the timeframe on January 12, 2019, when the unauthorized ATM skimmer and camera devices were in place and active on the ATM, 30 customers’ account numbers and PINs were exposed. The majority of those customers had their account numbers and PINs compromised through a series of fraudulent transactions that occurred January 26-27, 2019 by Barbu.
The operations officer at United Bank stated after the fraudulent transactions were discovered, all of their customers had their ATM cards and PINs deactivated and reissued. The operations officer has also advised that none of their customers had authorized any of the attempted and/or completed transactions and, all of their ATM cards had been in each customers’ possession before and during the time of the fraudulent activity.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mobile Division, Mobile, AL. There was joint cooperation and direct assistance by the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection; Bay Minette Alabama (AL) Police Department (PD); Mobile AL PD; Daphne AL PD; Foley AL PD; Prattville AL PD; Pascagoula Mississippi PD; Padukah Kentucky PD; FBI Jackson Division; FBI Memphis Division, and credit for Barbu's capture and extradition by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, US Attorney's Office, and FBI Minneapolis Division, all in Minnesota.