YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Three more Romanian nationals today admitted their roles in using ATM skimming devices to steal $5 million from banks in Englewood and elsewhere.
Emil Revesz (a/k/a Daniel Laptes), 31, pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark to single counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Meanwhile, Constantin Pendus (a/k/a Florin Bodgan Hristea), 30; and 19-year-old Florin Apetrei each pleaded guilty the conspiracy charge for their roles in what U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said was one of the largest operations of its kind ever uncovered by law enforcement.
Revesz and Pendus have been held without bail since their arrests late last July. Apetrei has been held without bail since his arrest last July.
Others charged in the case have either pleaded guilty, been sentenced or are awaiting disposition of their cases.
They include the man who federal prosecutors said led the operation – 31-year-old Marius Vintila– who was extradited from Sweden in February.
The government said Vintila, also known as Dan Girneata, fled the country last July as federal agents rounded up his soldiers and upper-level associates. He was caught in Sweden in September.
A six-count indictment returned in U.S. District Court in Newark accuses him of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to possess counterfeit access devices, among other charges.
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 last year.
(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 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.
Co-leader Bogdan Radu of Queens admitted two months ago that he helped create the homemade skimming devices and taught others how to install them on bank ATMs.
In addition, co-defendants Marius Cortiga and Constantin Ginga admitted that they and others stole approximately $985,000 from Citibank ATMs in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
Late last year, two crew members — Ioan Leusca, also known as “Ionel Spinu,” and Dezso Gyapias, also known as “Valentin Folea” — admitted their roles in the operation.
Gyapias, Ginga and Leusca were each sentenced in February to 57 months in federal prison. Sentencing for the three who pleaded guilty today was initially set for Sept. 17.
Several others, many of them Romanian nationals who lived in and around Queens, have been charged, as well.
An additional defendant, known only as “Chioru,” remained at large, Fishman said.
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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