NEWARK – A Romanian national and Queens, N.Y., resident admitted to a scheme to steal account information from bank customers throughout New Jersey, New York and Connecticut by installing secret card-reading devices on ATMs, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced Monday.
Constantin Ginga, 52, pleaded guilty on Sept. 9 before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Ginga has been held without bail since his arrest on Jan. 13.
To date, nine other individuals have been charged with a related conspiracy, which stole millions of dollars from unsuspecting customers.
According to documents filed in this and related cases, as well as statements made in court:
During his guilty plea, Ginga admitted that he and fellow conspirators installed skimmers and pinhole cameras at bank ATMs. The devices were installed on multiple ATMs in New Jersey and Connecticut. Each skimmer, an electronic device, would read and record identity and account information contained in the magnetic strip of a customer’s ATM card. The pinhole camera secretly recorded bank customers’ keystrokes as they entered their personal identification numbers. Ginga admitted that he and other conspirators went back to collect the devices containing the recorded information.
Ginga acknowledged that after the stolen customer account and identification information had been loaded onto blank ATM cards, he and his conspirators used those cards to take approximately $985,000 from Citibank ATMs in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
The charges to which Ginga pleaded guilty arose from a larger investigation into a skimming scheme that targeted customers in the tri-state area in 2012 and early 2013. Together, the schemes cost a number of banks a total of approximately $5 million in cash stolen from their customer accounts.
Of the nine others charged in relation to the wider scheme, all Romanian nationals who lived in Queens, eight are in custody. The leaders of the scheme, Marius Vintila, 31, and Bogdan Radu, 30, were charged by criminal complaint on July 10, 2013. Vintila and Radu allegedly designed and created the actual skimming devices and pinhole cameras and recruited individuals, including Ginga, to install them on bank ATMs.
Radu and seven other alleged conspirators are in custody and being held without bail. Vintila and an unnamed individual remain at large.
The bank fraud conspiracy charge to which Ginga pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory, consecutive penalty of two years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine. Sentencing is currently scheduled for Dec. 18.
Fishman praised special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James Mottola, along with special agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations in Newark, under the direction of Andrew M. McLees, with the investigation.
As for the defendants charged in pending complaints, the charges and allegations are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!