Romanian Nationals Sentenced To Federal Prison For ATM Skimming
Group inflicted more than $580,000 in losses to 17 financial institutions in Michigan, Nebraska, and Iowa
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced today that Ioan Georgel Cristian Flore, a Romanian national who is illegally present in the United States, was sentenced to 75 months in federal prison for his role in an ATM skimming fraud that resulted in $587,529.50 in losses to financial institutions located in Michigan, Nebraska, and Iowa.
Flore pled guilty to conspiracy to commit financial institution fraud and aggravated identity theft in November 2020. Flore admitted that, between September 2019 and May 2020, he engaged in a conspiracy to defraud financial institutions by stealing money from federally insured financial institution customer accounts in Michigan and elsewhere. The members of the conspiracy accomplished the fraud by obtaining devices and cameras that were designed to secretly record account data, including account numbers and personal identification numbers, from debit and credit cards that bank and credit union customers used to withdraw cash, make deposits, and conduct other transactions. The conspirators installed those devices on automated teller machines (ATMs), and then retrieved the devices after they had recorded account data of bank and credit union customers. These devices are commonly called ATM skimming devices. Thereafter, the conspirators, including the Defendant, used the stolen account data of the bank and credit union customers to unlawfully create and possess access devices, including re-encoded cards, and then used those access devices to fraudulently withdraw cash from the accounts of the bank and credit union customers. Flore was illegally present in the United States having overstayed a visa.
At the sentencing hearing in Lansing, Michigan, United States District Judge Hala Y. Jarbou also imposed two years of supervised release following imprisonment and a restitution order of $587,529.50. Additionally, Flore was ordered to forfeit $16,230 in U.S. currency that was seized from his vehicle during a traffic stop in Indiana when the two were found in possession of tools used to commit ATM skimming.
Flore’s co-conspirator, Marius Adrian Mastan, also a citizen of Romania and a legal resident of Illinois, was sentenced by the Court on March 25, 2021, to serve 53 months in prison for his role in the scheme, ordered to repay $587,529.50 to the 17 victims, and forfeit the $16,230 in seized currency.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge stated, “This is the third crew of ATM skimmers using the same modus operandi that my office has prosecuted in the last three years. We are relentless in our pursuit of lengthy prison sentences for anyone who steals and uses other people’s debit and credit card numbers and PIN numbers, which harms both the cardholder and the financial institution that ultimately suffers the loss. At the same time, residents who use ATMs and other debit and credit card readers should remain vigilant in detecting evidence of tampering or anything unusual about the machine. If you suspect tampering has occurred, do not use it and report it immediately.”
“Innocent people in this case had their personal information taken and their money stolen by criminals who believed there would be few consequences for their crimes. The lengthy sentences in this case send a message to anyone engaged in this type of theft that the FBI, along with our federal, state, and local partners will find them and hold them accountable,” said Timothy Waters, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “We encourage anyone who believes they may have been a victim of identity theft to report it to the FBI or their local law enforcement agency.”
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Kalamazoo and St. Joseph, Michigan; the Michigan State Police; the Hobart Indiana Police Department; and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The investigation of other co-conspirators is ongoing.