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MICHIGAN: Three Romanians Charged In An Elaborate ATM Skimming Scheme

An indictment was returned on April 17, 2019 by a Grand Jury charging three Romanian nationals with conducting an elaborate ATM skimming scheme throughout several Michigan cities, announced United States Attorney Matthew Schneider.

This indictment charges Ciprian Viorel Vartolomei, 38 (aka: Eric Rene Fuss, Dumitru Movradin, and Costică Andriesei), Cătălin Pușcașu, 36 (aka: Bjorn Ove Sigbjornsen and Jean Francois Margelli), and Ion Florin Oproiu, 45 (aka: Dominik Gerza) with two counts of access device fraud (Oprious is charged with only one count) and one count of aggravated identity theft.

According to the indictment, the above defendants obtained fraudulent foreign passports and driver’s licenses to obtain lodging, establish fraudulent bank accounts, wire money, and establish fraudulent accounts with private or commercial interstate shipping carriers.

Their scheme included the manufacture of counterfeit access device making equipment, commonly referred to as “skimming” devices.

These devices were installed inside ATM machines to capture victims’ bank account numbers.

In addition, the defendants installed small hidden cameras along with the skimmer to capture victims PIN numbers.

The perpetrators would later recover the skimming devices and hidden cameras and use the captured data to create fraudulent or altered access devices which they used, in conjunction with the victims’ PINs, to steal money from bank accounts through ATM machines.

According to the indictment, the compromised information pertains to members of a few credit unions in several Michigan cities, including Jackson, Hillsdale, Milan, Vandercook, and Battle Creek.

Over $90,000 in cash was recovered from the defendants upon their arrest and from an apartment they had rented.

Also recovered were numerous equipment and tools used in manufacturing skimming devices and hundreds of fraudulent credit/debit/gift cards.

All three defendants are currently in custody on immigration violations and will be brought to Federal Court in the Eastern District of Michigan for arraignment on the indictment in the next few days.

The case was investigated by the Southeast Michigan Financial Crimes Task Force including members of the United States Secret Service, Homeland Security, West Bloomfield and Royal Oak Police Departments and other agencies.

According to WFTV News, Vartolomei (Brașov, Romania), Marius Sandu, 22  (Vâlcea, Romania) and
Tamas Lorinc-Falvi, 38 (Budapest, Hungary) were arrested in Osceola County (Florida) in 2016 and charged with installing a skimmer on an ATM at a Celebration Avenue SunTrust Bank.

Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Ciprian-Viorel Vartollomei, Marius Sandu and Tamas Lorinc Falvi and charged them with Use of a Scanning Device.

The investigation began on October 20 when deputies received information regarding suspicious activity at SunTrust Bank located at 650 Celebration Avenue.

Based on the information, detectives conducted an investigation on October 20, 2016.

They observed three suspects remove a skimming device from the ATM and leave the area.

A traffic stop was conducted and all three suspects were arrested and booked into the Osceola County Jail.

The three are suspects in possible similar crimes. The investigation is on-going with additional charges pending.

Osceola County Sheriff’s Office named: Ciprian-Viorel Vartolomei (DOB 7/12/80), Str.Viginului 20, Brasov Romania;
Marius Sandu (DOB 1/23/94), 18 Rapsodiei Street, Valcea Romania; Tamas Lorinc-Falvi (DOB 5/30/78), 1148 Fay Utca 2, Budapest.

Ciprian Viorel Vartolomei, Cătălin Pușcașu and Ion Florin Oproiu are accused of stealing more than $200,000 between September 2018 and March 2019 from banks across Southeast Michigan by making clone cards and withdrawing money from ATMs, according to ClickonDetroit.

Pușcașu and Vartolomei were captured on surveillance video March 25 making fraudulent withdrawals from a County National Bank ATM in Jonesville, Michigan, according to authorities.

Puscasu was driving and Vartolomei was the front seat passenger in a silver 2019 Ford Fusion, police said.

Police followed the Fusion and eventually conducted a traffic stop, officials said. Vartolomei and Puscasu were arrested by Homeland Security agents for immigration violations, according to court documents.

Officials said one of the apartments on West Nine Mile Road was being rented by Vartolomei under a fake name.

Bank records showing accounts opened in fake names: Eric Rene Fuss, Dumitru Movradin, Bjorn Ove Sibgjornsen and Jean Francois Margelli.

Police said a room in the apartment was set up as a workshop to manufacture counterfeit access device equipment.

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