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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 16, 2014

Romanian Nationals Sentenced For Their Participation In ATM Skimming Scheme



Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Miami Field Office, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that Gheorghe Adrian Lupu, 47, Nicolai Ceausescu, 39, Claudiu Florin Iordache, 23, Victor Ticus, 45, Marinel Aurelian Capra, 32, and Florian Laurentiu Nicola, 40, were sentenced yesterday for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The defendants are Romanian nationals without known permanent addresses in the United States. Before their arrests, they were living in Miami. Lupu was sentenced to 33 months in prison, Ceausescu was sentenced to 78 months in prison, Iordache was sentenced to 57 monthsin prison, Ticus was sentenced to 82 months in prison, Capra was sentenced to 63 months in prison, and Nicola was sentenced to 74 months in prison.

According to the defendants’ admissions at their plea hearings and the parties’ submissions at sentencing, the defendants engaged in a scheme known as ATM “skimming.” The defendants operated this scheme by placing skimming devices and pinhole cameras on ATMs. The skimming devices fit over the ATMs’ card slots, such that ATM cards inserted into an ATM first passed through the skimming device. The skimming devices looked like parts of the ATMs themselves, so that customers were not aware that a device had been attached to the ATMs. The skimming devices allowed the ATMs to function properly, but first recorded the data encoded on the bank customers’ ATM cards. At the same time, the pinhole cameras surreptitiously recorded the customers’ PINs. The defendants then made counterfeit ATM cards by re-encoding the magnetic strips on other cards, such as gift cards. Using the counterfeit cards and the recorded PINs, the defendants made unauthorized withdrawals from the customers’ bank accounts. In total, the defendants installed skimming devices on ATMs on 53 occasions known to the government, after which they withdrew $340,584 from 314 accounts.

A seventh defendant, Laurentiu Grimberg, was previously sentenced to 63 months in prison.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ICE-HSI and the FBI. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Osborne.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Updated March 12, 2015