YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A native of Romania who was arrested in Sweden and extradited to the United States admitted today to directing one of the largest ATM skimming schemes in history, stealing $5 million from banks in Englewood and elsewhere.
Marius Vintila, a/k/a “Dan Girneata,” 31, has been held without bail since being brought to the U.S. last February.
Vintila fled in July 2013 as federal agents in New Jersey arrested members of his crew. He was caught in Sweden two months later.
Federal authorities charged 16 people, eleven of whom pleaded guilty, in what U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said was one of the largest operations of its kind ever uncovered by law enforcement.
Bogdan Radu, 30, who was charged separately, admitted helping design and construct the ATM skimming devices used during a large portion of the scheme.
Another defendant, Emil Revesz, also 30, Revesz admitted that he was one of the conspirators who installed skimmers and pinhole cameras at bank ATMs in order to steal thousands of customer bank account numbers and PIN codes in 2012 and early 2013.
(The electronic devices collected identity and account information from the ATM card’s magnetic strip, while the pinhole camera secretly recorded customers’ keystrokes as they entered their PINs.)
Revesz said he and his associates then used counterfeit ATM cards to withdraw cash from Wells Fargo, Citibank, and TD Bank branches throughout New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
The victimized banks included the Citibank branch on Engle Street in Englewood.
Crew members used hats, jackets, scarves and sunglasses to disguise themselves while installing the devices and while using the cards to withdraw money, the government said.
Fishman, the U.S. attorney, said Vintilla and others 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, in various self-storage unites.
In addition, co-defendants Marius Cortiga, 35, and Constantin Ginga, 53, admitted that they and others stole approximately $985,000 from Citibank ATMs in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
Other crew members — Enes Causevic, 24, Constantin Pendus, Ioan Leusca (also known as “Ionel Spinu”) and Dezso “Valentin Folea” Gyapias, all 30 — admitted their roles in the operation.
Others charged in the case — Florin Apetrei, 18, Luis Franco, 23, and Mirel Hadzalic, 24 — admitted using the fraudulent ATM cards to withdraw cash.
Causevic, Cotiga, Ginga, Gyapias, Leusca and Revesz all pleaded guilty to bank fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft charges. Apetrei, Cotiga, Pendus, Franco and Hadzalic pleaded guilty to bank fraud conspiracy.
Ginga, Gyapias and Leusca each was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison. Franco and Pendus each got 33 months, Hadzalic received 34 months and Apetrei 24.
Causevic, Cotiga, Radu and Revesz are awaiting sentencing.
Dinu Horvat, 28, who was charged as a co-defendant along with Vintila, pleaded not guilty and is due for trial in March.
Three defendants charged in the case — Alin Dumitru Carabus, 40, Ionut Vasile Ciurba-Stana, a/k/a “Ciorba,” 28, and Robert Eduard Mate, a/k/a “Chioru,” 29 — were arrested in Spain, where U.S. extradition requests are still pending.
Vintila, meanwhile, is scheduled for sentencing May 5.
He pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Fishman praised special agents of the U.S. Secret Service’s Newark Field Office, along with special agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Newark. He also thanked Englewood police for assisting in Ginga’s arrest.
Handling the case for the government are Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Agarwal and David Eskew of Fishman’s Criminal Division in Newark.
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