A Romanian man accused of leading a large-scale ATM skimming scheme targeting New Jersey bank customers is set to face charges in federal court in Newark today.
Marius Vintila, also known as “Dan Girneata,” 31, is scheduled to appear before Judge Madeline Cox Arleo on a six-count criminal complaint charging him with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to possess 15 or more counterfeit access devices, possession of 15 or more counterfeit access devices, conspiracy to possess access device-making equipment, and possession of access device-making equipment, according to U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.
He faces decades in jail and millions in fines if convicted.
In July 2013, as federal agents arrested various members of Vintila’s ATM skimming scheme, Vintila fled the United States. On Sept. 24, 2013, he was apprehended in Sweden and extradited to the U.S.
Vintila was allegedly the ringleader of an extensive ATM skimming scheme that defrauded Wells Fargo, Citibank, TD Bank and multiple other financial institutions out of at least $5 million. Vintila and his conspirators installed skimmers and pinhole cameras at bank ATMs in order to steal thousands of customer bank account numbers and PIN codes. Each skimmer would read and record identity and account information contained in the magnetic strip of a customer’s ATM card. The pinhole camera secretly recorded bank customers’ keystrokes as they entered their personal identification numbers.
Vintila and another conspirator, Bogdan Radu, 30, created and constructed the homemade skimming devices and taught others how to install them on bank ATMs. The homemade devices were installed on multiple ATMs in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Florida, and were used to steal thousands of bank account numbers and personal identification numbers.
Radu was charged separately and is also in custody, according to federal officials.
After the account information was stolen, Vintila and his conspirators created false and fraudulent ATM cards, which they used to withdraw millions of dollars from customers’ bank accounts. During the course of the conspiracy, Vintila produced and transferred hundreds of fraudulent ATM cards.
Vintila also used an alias, “Dan Girneata,” to open bank accounts, rent vehicles, and rent multiple self-storage units, in which he stored the contents of an entire skimming operation, including skimming devices, pinhole cameras, super glue, tape, SD cards, batteries, computers, molds, fraudulent ATM cards, and cash proceeds.
Vintila’s alleged ATM skimming operation is one of the largest ever uncovered by law enforcement, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
In total, to date, 12 others have been charged in connection with the skimming scheme.
Many of the conspirators are Romanian nationals who lived in and around Queens, N.Y. Other charged conspirators, recruited by Vintila, included Radu, Constantin Ginga, 53; Marius Cotiga, 35; Constantin Pendus, 30; Emil Revesz, 30; Florin Apetrei, 18; Ioan Leusca, 30; Dezso Gyapias, 29; Luis Franco, 23; Mirel Hadzalic, 24; Enes Causevic, 23; and another unknown individual with the nickname “Chioru.”
These conspirators installed the devices designed by Vintila and Radu and used the stolen bank account information to withdraw millions of dollars from bank customers’ accounts.
Federal officials believe the group stole $3 million from Wells Fargo, $1 million from Citibank and $1 million from TD Bank.
With the arrest of Vintila, 12 of the 13 conspirators charged in connection with Vintila’s ATM skimming scheme to date are in custody in New Jersey and are being held without bail. Leusca and Gyapias have pleaded guilty to separate informations charging each with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. They await sentencing on Feb. 20. Ginga also previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft and awaits sentencing on Feb. 26.