Man pleads guilty in Pennsylvania court ATM identity-theft scheme
PITTSBURGH - A man accused of stealing people's bank account information from automated teller machines and then making bogus ATM cards to withdraw cash pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges of bank fraud, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Vasile Ciocan, 29, and his alleged accomplices installed remote cameras and illegal scanning devices on ATMs, prosecutors said. The "skimming" devices captured information from customers' ATM cards and the cameras recorded their personal identification numbers.
Ciocan and others then created fraudulent ATM cards to withdraw money from bank accounts, prosecutors said.
The scheme spanned several states, including Ohio, Illinois, New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania, authorities said. Ciocan's guilty plea covers cases in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
"After discussing the case with him, he determined it was in his best interest to plead guilty to both cases" in Pittsburgh, said Ciocan's lawyer, William O. Schmalzried.
Ciocan is not co-operating with authorities against alleged accomplice Romulus Pasca, who also faces trial in Pittsburgh, Schmalzried said.
A message left for the public defender representing Pasca was not immediately returned Friday.
The Pennsylvania investigation began April 13 when a passing motorist reported Ciocan and Pasca acting suspiciously near ATMs in Monroeville, a suburb just east of Pittsburgh.
Ciocan and Pasca, both Romanian nationals who had been living in Canada, were in the United States illegally, prosecutors said.
Ciocan and another man had been indicted in Ohio on charges of stealing more than $53,000 from ATM customers there.
The men were accused of placing magnetic card readers and tiny cameras on ATMs owned by Fifth Third Bank and KeyBank branches to steal the names and other information from about 400 accounts, police said.
Ciocan, who remains in the Allegheny County Jail, is scheduled to be sentenced March 21.