What Happened? Three New York-area men have 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, New York, pleaded guilty on Tuesday, April 18, 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 on April 10 and March 29, respectively.
Jurisdiction: 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.
The original law enforcement investigation was a joint effort of the ICE-HSI's Newark, NJ, Division; the U.S. Secret Service's Boston Field Office; the Longmeadow, Mass. Police Department; the Cambridge, Mass. Police Department, and the Medford, Mass. Police Department, with assistance from Bank of America's Security and Fraud Section and PNC Bank's Security Division.
The Middlesex County, Mass. District Attorney's Office; the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of New York; and the U.S. Attorney's Office of the District of Mass. Springfield Division assisted in both the case's investigation and prosecution, the latter of which was led by trial attorney Marianne Shelvey of the Criminal Division's Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Graves of the District of New Jersey.
Sentencing: Garcia is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 2, 2017, while Hanganu is scheduled for sentencingon July 31. The U.S. Department of Justice did not list a sentencing date for Marin.
Background: Per a DOJ press release: 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.
Both 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.