New York Man Gets 5-Year Sentence for ATM SkimmingScheme Resulted in Theft of $400,000 Over Two Years, Prosecutors Say
A Queens, New York, man was sentenced to five years in federal prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to helping a criminal gang steal nearly $400,000 from several banks through a physical ATM skimming scheme, the U.S. Justice Department announced.
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Bogdan Rusu, 39, pleaded guilty in February 2019 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. In addition to his 60-month prison term, a judge in U.S. Federal Court in Newark, New Jersey, ordered Rusu to pay nearly $400,000 in restitution to victims, prosecutors say.
Eleven other members of the gang have pleaded guilty to various federal changes related to the skimming scheme, according to the Justice Department.
Between 2014 and 2016, Rusu along with several other members of a criminal gang targeted bank ATMs throughout New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts with a simple but effect method of skimming payment card data, according to federal prosecutors.
In most cases, Rusu and others planted and installed physical payment card readers - skimmers - and pinhole cameras within ATMs. While the card skimmer would capture victims' account information from a magnetic stripe on debit and ATM cards, the camera would then record customers' PINs The gang would then create fraudulent payment cards and steal funds from victims' accounts.
Rusu would move from bank branch to bank branch over the course of several days installing pinhole cameras and card skimmers on ATMs - usually located in a building's vestibule - according to court documents.
In Massachusetts, for example, a special agent with U.S. Customs and Immigration found that between August and October 2014, Ruse went from one TD Bank branch to another and planted card skimmers and cameras within ATMs, according to court documents.
Those thefts alone ranged from a few thousand dollars to over $28,000. In many cases, surveillance cameras showed Ruse installing the skimming equipment, prosecutors say.
In another recent skimming case, the Justice Department announced an indictment in October that charged 18 people with running an international card skimming scam that allegedly stole more than $20 million.
In 2018, Positive Technologies published a report that found over 90 percent of ATMs were vulnerable to fraudsters accessing the machine's hard drive in order to plant a skimmer. In most cases, a criminal could bypass security and install the devices within 20 minutes, according to the report.