Member of Roanoke-Area ATM Skimming Conspiracy Pleads Guilty

ROANOKE, Va. – A member of a Romanian criminal organization who traveled to the United States to conduct ATM skimming pleaded guilty last week in federal court.

Catalin Puscasu, 38, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.  Puscasu is the third defendant to have pleaded guilty for his role in this scheme.

According to court documents, between December 2018 and March 2019, Puscasu and others worked together to obtain personal identifying information and then used that data to make unauthorized cash withdrawals from the accounts of these victims and/or use the victims’ credit for their personal gain.

Specifically, members of this criminal organization installed skimming devices and small hidden cameras onto ATM card readers at federally-insured banks throughout the Western District of Virginia in order to steal customers’ PINs and account numbers.  The scammers encoded that stolen information onto blank debit cards and then used them to withdraw money.

In March 2019, Puscasu was arrested in Michigan for committing similar offenses.  After serving 36 months in federal custody for those crimes, he was returned to the Western District of Virginia to face charges related to his conduct here.  Pursuant to the terms of his plea agreement, Puscasu will serve an additional 18 to 37 months in prison and must pay restitution to the victims.

United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh made the announcement today.

The United States Secret Service, the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office, the Roanoke County Police Department, the Campbell County Police Department, the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, the Farmville Police Department, the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office, the Blacksburg Police Department, and the Lynchburg Police Department investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Coleman Adams is prosecuting the case.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Virginia

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