Springfield, Massachusetts - A Romanian man pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Massachusetts to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft in connection with a multi-state card skimming scheme.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling of the District of Massachusetts, Special Agent in Charge Stephen Marks of the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) Boston Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New England Division, Medford Police Chief Leo Sacco and East Meadow, Massacusetts Police Chief Jeffrey Dalessio made the announcement today.
Bogdan Viorel Rusu, 38, of Romania and formerly residing in Queens, New York, pleaded guilty to an Information that charged him with one count each of conspiracy to commit bank, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft. U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni scheduled sentencing for Dec. 11. 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 the agreed-upon statement of facts in Rusu’s plea agreement, between 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. As set forth below, Rusu and his co-conspirators captured payment card account information from customers as they accessed their accounts through automatic teller machines (ATMs) and then used that information to steal money from the customers’ bank accounts.
Rusu admitted that to capture the account information, he and his co-conspirators installed electronic devices (i.e., “skimming devices”) that surreptitiously recorded customers’ bank account information on the banks’ card-readers at the vestibule door, the ATM machine, or both. In addition, Rusu and 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.
Pursuant to his plea agreement, Rusu admitted that he and his co-conspirators caused losses of $364,419 in Massachusetts and $75,715 in New York (totaling $440,134 from 531 individual accounts), in addition to losses in New Jersey of $428,581.
The case was investigated by USSS, HSI, the Medford Police Department and the East Longmeadow Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Marianne Shelvey of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven H. Breslow of the Springfield Branch Office.