SunTrust and Bank of America ATM Scam Ends With Jail

June 27, 2011

According to federal prosecutors,

  • Catalin Bucataru,37, of Glendale, New York;
  • Traian Stan, 39, of Woodhaven, New York;
  • Gheorghe Nutu Cirpaci, 40 of Glendale, New York,
  • Tudorel Calin,26, of Ridgewood, New York; and
  • Alin Muneanu, 27, of Ridgewood, New York

participated in an Automated Teller Machine ("ATM") skimming scheme based in New York and Washington, D.C., that lasted from September 2009 through October 2010.

I See You

The five conspirators targeted Bank of America and SunTrust Bank branches located in the New York City area, Philadelphia, Washington,D.C., and elsewhere by installing electronic devices on ATM cardreaders that secretly recorded a customer's bank account data when he or she used an ATM. The conspirators installed hidden "pinhole" video cameras on ATM machines that secretly recorded the entry on the machine's keypad of customers' personal identification numbers ("PINs").

After obtaining the the stolen bank account numbers with their corresponding PINs, the conspirators encoded cards with the information and withdrew funds from the compromised accounts. More than 1,100 customer accounts were compromised to the extent of at least $500,000 in stolen deposits, which the banks subsequently reimbursed to their clients.

Guilty Pleas

Bucataru, Stan, and Cirpaci pled guilty in federal court in Manhattan to one count of:

  • conspiracy to commit bank fraud,
  • conspiracy to commit access device fraud,
  • bank fraud,
  • access device fraud, and
  • aggravated identity theft.

On June 23, 2001, the defendants were were sentenced to:

  • Bucataru: 5 years in prison; Ordered to forfeit $390,000, Ordered to make restitution in the amount of $390,000, and Ordered to pay a special assessment of $500
  • Stan: 4 years in prison; Ordered to forfeit $390,000, Ordered to make restitution in the amount of $390,000, and Ordered to pay a special assessment of $500
  • Cirpaci 4 years in prison; Ordered to forfeit $184,000, Ordered to make restitution in the amount of $184,000, and Ordered to pay a special assessment of $500.
  • Calin and Muneanu previously pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Also see:

ATM Fraud: No Longer the Cheesy ATM Machine at the Local Deli ("Street Sweeper," June 7, 2011)

UPDATE: Have I Got an ATM Machine for You You, Cheap! ("Street Sweeper," April 27, 2011)