A Romanian national admitted Tuesday to his role in a brazen ATM-skimming scheme that resulted in $868,000 being pilfered from bank accounts in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey, prosecutors said.
Bogdan Viorel Rusu, 38, pleaded guilty in federal court in Springfield to charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft, according to the office of Andrew E. Lelling, the US attorney for Massachusetts.
Rusu’s lawyer, Kevin G. Murphy, said he hopes for a sentence of three to four years on the fraud charges. The identity theft charge carries a mandatory two-year term to be served consecutively to any other sentence.
According to prosecutors, Rusu and his coconspirators engaged in a widespread plot that targeted various banks in the three states between 2014 and 2016. They captured bank card information from customers using ATMs.
Armed with that sensitive information, the thieves raided hundreds of individual bank accounts, stealing $364,419 from customers in Massachusetts, $75,715 from New York account holders, and $428,581 from New Jersey victims, Lelling’s office said in a statement.
“To capture the account information, Rusu and/or his co-conspirators installed electronic devices, i.e., skimming devices, which surreptitiously recorded customers’ bank account information on the banks’ card-readers at the vestibule door, the ATM machine, or both,” the release said. “In addition, Rusu and/or his co-conspirators installed other devices (generally either pinhole cameras or keypad overlays) in order to record the keystrokes of bank customers as they entered their personal identification numbers to access their bank accounts.”
Prosecutors said the fraud charges each carry maximum prison terms of 30 years and fines of up to $1 million.
Rusu’s sentencing in Springfield is scheduled for Dec. 11.
He also plans to plead guilty to separate charges in New Jersey and, as part of a deal, his sentence in that case will run concurrently with the Springfield penalty, Murphy said.
In addition, Rusu will be subject to deportation proceedings when he completes his sentence but has indicated he may have an asylum claim, Murphy said.
Murphy had no further comment on the asylum matter because he’s not representing Rusu on that issue. Rusu is the last of several defendants to plead guilty in the ATM case, Murphy said.