The Department of Justice has indicted four foreign nationals for stealing more than $1.5 million from bank accounts by using "skimming" technology to help themselves to the bank accounts of customers who used ATMs in Miami, Chicago, and New York City. Mihail Dragici and Ionel Dedlescu, both Romanian citizens, were arrested in December while trying to board an international flight at Miami International Airport. Their co-defendants, Didi Theodor Ciulei (AKA "Spirel") and
Laurentiu Mugurel Manta (AKA "Mugur") -- citizens of Austria and Romania, respectively -- were arrested late last month. Now all four sit in jail in New York City.
They used sophisticated technology known as skimming to steal customers' bank information. The suspects are alleged to have replaced PIN pads inside the banks at the teller counter with identical-looking pads that recorded the customers' bank information. The men were then able to access that information remotely.
The ring also manipulated ATM machines to record customers' data. "Skimmers" would be placed over the card slot at ATMs to record bank card data. An overlay pad placed atop the regular key pad would then record the customers' PIN numbers.
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"Skimming is a devious form of high-tech robbery that threatens the integrity of our financial institutions and the privacy of banking customers,"
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "Today's indictment deals a significant blow to one alleged skimming ring, and along with our partners at the Secret Service, we will continue to pursue and prosecute the perpetrators of these schemes."
The ring is believed to have targeted Chase and Citibank branches. All four could now face 60 years in prison.