Romanian National Sentenced for Multi-State ATM Card Skimming Scheme

A Romanian national was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Springfield, Massachusetts, in connection with a multi-state ATM card skimming scheme.  The following information is provided by the Department of Justice:

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling for the District of Massachusetts, Special Agent in Charge Stephen Marks of the U.S. Secret Service’s Boston Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston, East Longmeadow Police Chief Jeffrey Dalessio and Medford Police Chief Jack Buckley made the announcement.

Bogdan Viorel Rusu, 38, a Romanian national formerly residing in Queens, New York, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni for the District of Massachusetts to 65 months in prison followed by 60 months of supervised release.  Judge Mastroianni also ordered Rusu to pay restitution in the amount of $440,130 and forfeit the same amount.  In September 2018, Rusu pleaded guilty to an Information that charged him with one count each of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.  Rusu was arrested on Nov. 14, 2016, and initially charged by complaint in the District of New Jersey and has been in custody since.

According to Rusu’s plea agreement, from approximately Aug. 3, 2014, until his arrest on Nov. 14, 2016, Rusu engaged in a widespread bank fraud conspiracy that targeted various banks in Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.  Rusu and his co-conspirators captured payment card account information from customers as they accessed their accounts through ATMs and then used that information to steal money from the customers’ bank accounts.

To capture the account information, Rusu and/or his co-conspirators installed electronic devices, i.e., skimming devices, which surreptitiously recorded customers’ bank account information on the banks’ card-readers at the vestibule door, the ATM machine, or both.  In addition, Rusu and/or his co-conspirators installed other devices (generally either pinhole cameras or keypad overlays) in order to record the keystrokes of bank customers as they entered their personal identification numbers to access their bank accounts.  After enough customers accessed the ATM machine, Rusu and/or his co-conspirators removed the skimming devices.  They then transferred the illegally obtained information from the skimming devices and pinhole cameras to counterfeit payment cards.  Finally, they visited other ATM machines with the counterfeit cards to obtain cash from the skimmed bank accounts before the bank or the customers became aware of their illicit conduct.

As a result of the scheme, $364,419 was lost in Massachusetts and $75,715 in New York (totaling $440,134 from 531 individual accounts), and another $428,581 was stolen in New Jersey.

The U.S. Secret Service’s Boston Field Division and HSI Boston investigated this case with assistance from East Longmeadow Police Department and Medford Police Department.  This investigation started as a result of analysis provided by TD Bank Global Investigations Springfield, Massachusetts.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven H. Breslow for the District of Massachusetts and Trial Attorney Marianne Shelvey of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Gang Section prosecuted the case.

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