Charges in ATM Skimming SchemeCitibank, Wells Fargo, Other Banks Targeted
A Romanian man faces charges that he directed a large-scale ATM skimming scheme that allegedly defrauded Wells Fargo, Citibank, TD Bank and multiple other financial institutions out of at least $5 million, federal prosecutors say.
Marius Vintila faces a six-count criminal complaint, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey.
Vintila and his conspirators allegedly installed skimmers and pinhole cameras at bank ATMs to steal thousands of customer bank account numbers and PIN codes, federal prosecutors say. Vintila, along with Bogdan Radu, who was charged separately and is also in custody, constructed the homemade skimming devices and taught others how to install them.
The devices, which were installed on multiple ATMs in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Florida, were used to steal thousands of bank accounts numbers and personal identification numbers, prosecutors say. Fraudulent ATM cards were then created and used to withdraw millions of dollars from customers' bank accounts.
Along with Vintila, 12 others have been charged in connection with the scheme. Vintila's charges, and the potential sentences, include:
- Conspiracy to commit bank fraud - 30 years in prison and $1 million fine;
- Aggravated identity theft - mandatory, consecutive penalty of two years in prison and $250,000 fine, or twice the gross pecuniary gain or loss from the offense;
- Conspiracy to possess 15 or more counterfeit access devices - five years in prison and $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense;
- Possession of 15 or more counterfeit access devices - 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense;
- Conspiracy to possess access device-making equipment - seven and a half years in prison and $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense;
- Possession of access device-making equipment - 15 years in prison and $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense.
Vintila fled the U.S. in July 2013 when federal agents arrested various members of his skimming scheme, prosecutors say. He was arrested Sept. 24, 2013, in Sweden and later extradited to the United States to face charges.
Other Recent ATM Schemes
Last year, federal investigators announced arrests in two other major ATM schemes.
In May, authorities made several arrests in the wake of a $45 million ATM cash-out and prepaid card fraud scheme that came to light in the summer (see: Detangling the $45 Million Cyberheist). The operation involved hacking into payment card processors' networks, manipulating prepaid debit-card limits and speedily withdrawing the $45 million from ATMs worldwide.
And in June, authorities charged eight suspects in another ATM cash-out and cybercrime scheme that involved online account takeovers and prepaid card compromises (see: Another Huge Cash-Out Scheme Revealed). The government's investigation identified attempts to defraud the victim companies and their customers of more than $15 million.