Romanian national admits to role in ATM skimming scheme

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Leonard C Boyle, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Nicolae Marius Barbu, 50, a citizen of Romania, pleaded guilty Friday via videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Spector to an offense stemming from his participation in an extensive ATM skimming scheme that defrauded banks in Connecticut and elsewhere.

According to court documents and statements in court, between February and June 2017, a Connecticut bank experienced approximately 35 incidents of ATM skimming at locations in Stratford, Monroe, Trumbull, Greenwich, Fairfield and elsewhere in Connecticut.

The U.S. Attorney’s press release does not say the name of the bank.

As part of the scheme, conspiracy members placed skimming devices at the ATMs to capture account numbers and personal identification numbers (“PINs”) from customers who used their ATM cards at the ATMs while the devices were in place.  Conspiracy members then used the captured information to make substitute ATM cards, and obtained money and made purchases using those cards.  Barbu joined this conspiracy in April 2017.

In addition, in April 2018, Barbu and another individual stole credit cards from an individual’s belongings at a gym in Rockville, Md. They then used the cards to make more than $9,000 in purchases at Microsoft and Apple stores in Maryland.

Barbu pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford on June 16, 2022.

Barbu was arrested in Michigan in June 2021. He has been detained since his arrest.

Barbu has agreed to pay restitution $139,533 to the victim bank, and $9,536 to the banks that issued the credit cards used for his fraudulent purchases.

This investigation has been conducted by the Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force; the U.S. Secret Service in New Haven and Las Vegas; the Greenwich Police Department; the Monroe Police Department; Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and several local police departments.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anastasia E. King.

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