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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 10, 2019

18 Members Of International Fraud And Money Laundering Conspiracy Charged In Manhattan Federal Court

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Troy Miller, Director, Field Operations, New York, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), and James P. O’Neill, the Police Commissioner for the City of New York (“NYPD”), today announced the unsealing of an indictment and two superseding indictments charging 18 defendants with participating in an international conspiracy to commit a variety of offenses, including access device fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

Defendants NIKOLAOS LIMBERATOS, a/k/a “Nicu Limberto,” CRISTIAN COSTEA, a/k/a “Momo,” THEOFRASTOS LYMBERATOS, ANDREW ELIOPOULOS, PETER SAMOLIS, KELLY KARKI LAM, and IULIANA MIHAILESCU were arrested this morning and will be presented in federal court in Manhattan before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang later today.  Defendants MIRCEA CONSTANTINESCU, a/k/a “Sobo,”ALIN HANES CALUGARU, IONELA CONSTANTINESCU, a/k/a “Pitica,” and GEORGE SERBAN were also arrested this morning and will be presented in federal court in Miami before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lauren F. Louis later today.  Defendant FLORIAN CLAUDIU MARTIN, a/k/a “Florin Claudiu,” a/k/a “Johnny Ion,” a/k/a “Jane Hotul,” a/k/a “Petru Andrioaie,” a/k/a “Petru Andrioane,” was arrested this morning in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and defendant RAUL IONUT VIDRASAN, a/k/a “Michu,” a/k/a “The Boy,” was arrested this morning in Perugia, Italy.  Defendants VALENTIN PETRESCU, a/k/a “Gico Cosmin Giscan,” a/k/a “Zoltan Pruma,” DRAGOS DIACONU, MADLIN ALEXANDRU ANCA, a/k/a “Mateo Fernandez Alejandro,” and CRISTIAN ULMANU, a/k/a “Boris Moravec,” are currently in custody on other charges and will be transferred to federal custody in New York and presented at a later date.  The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, the defendants participated in a wide-ranging international ATM skimming and money laundering operation, using their technological know-how to steal tens of millions of dollars from financial institutions and individual victims.  Thanks to the FBI, CBP, and the NYPD, the defendants are in custody and facing felony charges for their alleged offenses.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “An extremely frustrating thing to experience, you grab cash from an ATM but then find out your bank information was stolen and your account drained.  The scheme detailed here cost victims money, time, and effort to get their finances returned and their identities restored, which can be an infuriating long process.  The FBI New York Cyber Crimes Task Force and our law enforcement partners have worked exhaustively to find the members of this criminal organization, and the arrests and charges are a testament to their hard work stopping these thieves from creating more havoc for anyone trying to access their hard-earned money.”

CBP Director of New York Field Operations Troy Miller said:  “This case serves as a great example of collaborative law enforcement efforts to combat international debit card schemes.  U.S. Customs and Border Protection in coordination with our partners at FBI and the NYPD will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that criminals associated with transnational criminal organizations are brought to justice.”

NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said:  “The NYPD and its law enforcement partners are committed to dismantling criminal enterprises that leverage attacks against our cyber infrastructure.  We comprehensively confront everything from highly-sophisticated transnational groups, like this one, to those criminals who exploit our citizens with cyber-enabled scams.  I want to thank our federal partners and NYPD detectives for their coordination and tireless efforts in bringing this important case.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment and Superseding Indictments[1] unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

From 2014 until September 2019, FLORIAN CLAUDIU MARTIN, a/k/a “Florin Claudiu,” a/k/a “Johnny Ion,” a/k/a “Jane Hotul,” a/k/a “Petru Andrioaie,” a/k/a “Petru Andrioane,” ALEX DONATI, RAUL IONUT VIDRASAN, a/k/a “Michu,” a/k/a “The Boy,” MIRCEA CONSTANTINESCU, a/k/a “Sobo,” NIKOLAOS LIMBERATOS, a/k/a “Nicu Limberto,” CRISTIAN COSTEA, a/k/a “Momo,” ALIN HANES CALUGARU, IONELA CONSTANTINESCU, a/k/a “Pitica,” THEOFRASTOS LYMBERATOS, ANDREW ELIOPOULOS, VALENTIN PETRESCU, a/k/a “Gico Cosmin Giscan,” a/k/a “Zoltan Pruma,” PETER SAMOLIS, KELLY KARKI LAM, GEORGE SERBAN, DRAGOS DIACONU, MADLIN ALEXANDRU ANCA, a/k/a “Mateo Fernandez Alejandro,” CRISTIAN ULMANU, a/k/a “Boris Moravec,” and IULIANA MIHAILESCU participated in a transnational organization that engaged in what is colloquially referred to as “ATM skimming” (the “Skimming Organization”).  The Skimming Organization unlawfully obtained victim accountholders’ debit card account information by using advanced technological devices to surreptitiously record the debit card numbers and personal identification numbers at automatic teller machines (“ATMs”), and then manufacturing counterfeit and fraudulent debit cards that bore the victim accountholders’ account information.  The Skimming Organization’s members then used those cards to fraudulently withdraw cash from victims’ bank accounts.

Certain of the defendants directed, or worked in, teams that the Skimming Organization deployed across the United States in order to carry out ATM skimming attacks, casing ideal locations for the attacks, installing skimming devices on ATMs, removing those devices, and cashing out large numbers of fraudulent debit cards manufactured as a result of the skimming operations.  Other defendants assisted in receiving packages containing skimming devices or component parts that were shipped from other parts of the U.S. and from abroad.  Other defendants assisted in engineering the skimming devices that the Skimming Organization used.  Still other defendants laundered the proceeds of the skimming attacks through bank accounts, properties, businesses, and the transportation of bulk cash.

The defendants carried out hundreds of ATM skimming operations across the U.S., including in New York and at least 17 other states.  The scheme defrauded financial institutions and individual victims of more than $20 million.

*                *                *

Each defendant is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 7 ½ years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed.  FLORIAN CLAUDIU MARTIN, a/k/a “Florin Claudiu,” a/k/a “Johnny Ion,” a/k/a “Jane Hotul,” a/k/a “Petru Andrioaie,” a/k/a “Petru Andrioane,” MIRCEA CONSTANTINESCU, a/k/a “Sobo,” NIKOLAOS LIMBERATOS, a/k/a “Nicu Limberto,” CRISTIAN COSTEA, a/k/a “Momo,” ALIN HANES CALUGARU, and KELLY KARKI LAM are also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  FLORIAN CLAUDIU MARTIN, a/k/a “Florin Claudiu,” a/k/a “Johnny Ion,” a/k/a “Jane Hotul,” a/k/a “Petru Andrioaie,” a/k/a “Petru Andrioane” is also charged with two counts of bank fraud, each of which carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.  ALEX DONATI is also charged with one count of access device fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. 

The statutory maximum and minimum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.  A chart with the defendants’ ages, places of residence, and nationalities is below.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI, CBP, and the NYPD, and thanked the United States Postal Inspection Service, INTERPOL-Rome, INTERPOL-Mexico City, and Mexico’s Agencia de Investigación Criminal and Instituto Nacional de Migración for their assistance.  

This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Elizabeth A. Hanft, Daniel M. Loss, Samuel P. Rothschild, and Robert B. Sobelman are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Defendant

Age

Place of Residence

Nationality

FLORIAN CLAUDIU MARTIN,

a/k/a “Florin Claudiu,”

a/k/a “Johnny Ion,”

a/k/a “Jane Hotul,”

a/k/a “Petru Andrioaie,”

a/k/a “Petru Andrioane,”

44

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Romania

ALEX DONATI

51

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Romania

RAUL IONUT VIDRASAN,

a/k/a “Michu,” a/k/a “The Boy”

27

Perugia, Italy

Romania

MIRCEA CONSTANTINESCU, a/k/a “Sobo”

44

Cooper City, Florida

Romania

NIKOLAOS LIMBERATOS, a/k/a “Nicu Limberto”

53

Deer Park, New York

Greece

CRISTIAN COSTEA, a/k/a “Momo”

44

Queens, New York

Romania

ALIN HANES CALUGARU

39

Sunny Isles, Florida

Romania

IONELA CONSTANTINESCU, a/k/a “Pitica”

35

Cooper City, Florida

Romania

THEOFRASTOS LYMBERATOS

36

Queens, New York

United States

ANDREW ELIOPOULOS

34

Queens, New York

United States

VALENTIN PETRESCU, a/k/a “Gico Cosmin Giscan,” a/k/a “Zoltan Pruma”

32

Russellville, Arkansas

Romania

PETER SAMOLIS

30

Queens, New York

United States

KELLY KARKI LAM

42

New York, New York

United States

GEORGE SERBAN

32

Miami, Florida

Romania

DRAGOS DIACONU

41

Nashville, Tennessee

Romania

MADLIN ALEXANDRU ANCA, a/k/a “Mateo Fernandez Alejandro”

22

Nashville, Tennessee

Romania

CRISTIAN ULMANU, a/k/a “Boris Moravec”

54

Russellville, Arkansas

Romania

IULIANA MIHAILESCU

42

Queens, New York

Romania

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and Superseding Indictments, and the description of the Indictment set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Updated October 10, 2019