Romanian national sentenced in ATM skimming scheme

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HARTFORD, Conn. — Vanessa Roberts Avery, U. S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that, on June 16, U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea sentenced Nicolae Marius Barbu, 50, a citizen of Romania, to 21 months of imprisonment for 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.

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.

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

Barbu was arrested in Michigan in September 2020. He subsequently pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Michigan for state offenses related to credit card theft and possession of forged identification.

On March 25, 2022, Barbu pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

Barbu, who has been detained since his arrest, faces immigration proceedings when he completes his prison term.

This investigation was conducted by the Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force, U.S. Secret Service, Greenwich Police Department, Monroe Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and several local police departments.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anastasia E. King.

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