Romanian National Charged with ATM Skimming
Group Used Skimming Devices to Steal Dozens of Debit Card Numbers, PINs from ATMs in Olathe, Riverside
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Romanian national has been charged in federal court related to a scheme to covertly steal and utilize illicitly obtained debit card data by placing skimming devices on ATMs inside QuikTrip stores in Olathe, Kan., and Riverside, Mo.
David Velcu, also known as Luca Antoni, 23, a citizen and national of Romania residing in Anaheim, Calif., was charged in a criminal complaint filed Thursday, April 19, 2018, in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo. Velcu remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing on April 24, 2018.
The federal criminal complaint alleges that Velcu, with the intent to defraud, possessed unauthorized access devices – approximately 78 re-encoded magnetic strip gift cards.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, a manager at an Olathe QuikTrip store noticed on April 7, 2018, that a metal piece was not sitting evenly along the card slot of the ATM. He subsequently pushed the metal piece with a key and it popped out of the card slot. Upon doing so, he noticed that one side of the metal was a mag strip reader and a circuit board was glued to the reverse side of the metal. There was also a piece of molded plastic fascia with pinhole camera that was applied directly above the keyboard designed to capture Personal Identification Numbers (PIN’s) of unwitting victims. Footage from the store’s surveillance cameras captured two unidentified juveniles responsible for placing the skimming device earlier that day.
Velcu entered the store later on the same date, the affidavit says. He wore a jacket exactly like one of the two unidentified suspects, and proceeded directly to the ATM, which had signage indicating that it was “Out-of-Service.” After staring at the ATM for an unusual amount of time, the affidavit says, Velcu purchased some food items and left the store in a sliver Audi A6 with California license plates. Surveillance video captured the same vehicle in a nearby parking lot where the two juvenile suspects had been seen earlier that morning.
Investigators used the license plates on the Audi A6 to identify the vehicle’s owner, Velcu (using the alias of Luca Antoni). Investigators determined the vehicle had recently had an oil change in Independence, Mo., and an employee of the business identified Velcu from a photo obtained from the QuikTrip surveillance camera. An Olathe, Kan., police detective then drove to several motels in the area on the hunch that perhaps he might be able to locate the suspect vehicle in a motel parking lot. The detective found Velcu’s vehicle in the parking lot of American Inn in Independence.
According to the affidavit, the motel manager told investigators that a large group of Romanians had checked into the motel on April 8, 2018, and that the group had three vehicles.
On April 9, 2018, an ATM skimmer device configuration was discovered at a QuikTrip in Riverside, Mo.
On April 10, 2018, Velcu, one of the juvenile suspects from the Olathe QuikTrip surveillance video, and an unidentified woman (with an infant) walked out of the hotel and left in Velcu’s vehicle. Officers stopped the vehicle. Velcu initially presented a counterfeit Italian driver’s license, but officers later located his Romanian ID card. The woman told officers that she is Velcu’s wife, and the unidentified juvenile suspect (who had a Romanian ID card) is her brother; she and her brother entered the United States illegally via the Mexican border over a year ago.
Officers searched the vehicle and found three re-encoded mag strip cards with stickers on the front depicting 4-digit codes, three tubes of Super Glue, and two small crowbars. Upon deploying a card reader to ascertain the track 2 data on the mag strips, investigators ascertained that each one of them contained a different 16-digit account number than the 16-digit number embossed on the cards.
One of the other vehicles that arrived with the group of Romanians, bearing a temporary Texas tag, pulled in the motel’s parking lot soon afterward. The driver of the vehicle initially presented a counterfeit Italian driver’s license but officers later located a genuine Republic of Ireland passport with a photo that matches the driver. Officers searched the vehicle and found re-encoded gift cards with 4-digit stickers applied, surface skimmers, circuit boards, gray and silver paint for fascia plates, memory cards, lithium battery packs, super glue and cutting tools.
Officers searched Velcu’s motel room and found 78 re-encoded gift cards, memory chips/cards, circuit boards, super glue, plastic fascia plates, lithium battery packs, cutting tools, cables, and three laptop computers. In this case, 16-digit account numbers were put onto plastic magnetic strip gift cards in order to fraudulently apply credits derived from various bank Visa debit card checking accounts. In addition, each of the plastic magnetic strip cards had a circular sticker applied to the front suggesting the corresponding PIN affiliated with the 16-digit re-encoded account number on the magnetic stip. Both elements are necessary in order to steal cash from ATMs.
The charge contained in this complaint is simply an accusation, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charge must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberlee L. Moore. It was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service the Olathe, Kan., Police Department, the Riverside, Mo., Police Department, the Independence, Mo., Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and ICE’s Enforcement Removal Operations.