Three New York-area men separately pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in relation to the theft of at least $428,581 in funds from various New Jersey banking locations.
The plot involved the use of skimming devices and pinhole cameras to capture password entries and card data.
Joel Abel Garcia, 35, a U.S. citizen from the Bronx, NY, pleaded guilty Tuesday, while fellow co-conspirators Victor Hanganu, 35, a Romanian citizen residing in Bayside, NY and Radu Marin, 36, a Romanian citizen living in Glendale, NY, entered the same guilty plea April 10 and March 29, respectively.
Garcia, Hanganu, Marin and 10 other charged defendants used stolen customer account numbers and personal identification numbers in order to fraudulently withdraw funds from numerous financial institutions. Of the $428,581 that was stolen, $132,805 was attributable to Garcia.
Garcia and Hanganu admitted to using counterfeit ATM cards and stolen customer information in a string of thefts targeting New Jersey banks between March 2015 and July 2016, while Hanganu also copped to installing skimming devices and pinhole cameras on PNC and Bank of America ATMs in order to record customers’ password entries and banking cards’ magnetic strip data.
The latest plea was entered in Newark before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas of the District of New Jersey. Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick of the District of New Jersey, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Newark, New Jersey, Office made the announcement.
Garcia is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 2, while Hanganu is scheduled for sentencing on July 31. The U.S. Department of Justice did not list a sentencing date for Marin.