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Financial Crimes
03/09/2011

Romanian national sentenced in ATM "skimming scheme"

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - A citizen of Romania was sentenced today in Connecticut to 41 months of imprisonment for participating in a multistate ATM "skimming" scheme. Marius Olustean, 36, also known as "Marius Casian" and "Marius Olosutean," appeared in federal court today in a case heard by U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in Bridgeport, following an investigation conducted jointly with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). 

According to court documents and statements made in court, Olustean and others conspired to install "skimming" devices on automated teller machines (ATM), and on card swipe access devices used by banks to control access to ATM lobby doors in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. The devices were able to capture the information encoded on the magnetic strips of bank cards used by ATM customers. They also placed devices on the ATMs that contained hidden pinhole cameras, which were positioned in such a way as to be able to record the personal identification numbers that bank customers keyed into the ATMs to gain access to their accounts. The group then used this stolen information to create counterfeit bank cards that allowed them to withdraw funds from the customers' accounts.

Olustean has admitted that, in September 2009, he and co-defendant Ion Preda installed a pin-capturing device on a People's United Bank ATM in Madison, and then used cloned ATM cards and stolen PINs to withdraw cash from compromised accounts using another People's United Bank ATM in Greenwich. Also, in June 2009, Olustean, Preda and others placed skimming devices and pinhole cameras at a Wachovia Bank ATM in Philadelphia.

Other banks and account holders also were victimized during the scheme, which resulted in a combined loss to all of the victim banks of more than $200,000. Today, Olustean was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $199,062.76.

On December 2, 2011, Olustean pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Preda pleaded guilty to the same charges on October 18, 2010. He is awaiting sentencing.

Olustean and Preda have been detained since their arrests by the Indiana State Police on May 3, 2010. At that time, Olustean and Preda possessed $1,285 in cash, laptop computers, gift cards, tools, and Western Union receipts.

This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force, notably the U. S. Secret Service and the Greenwich Police Department. The Task Force also includes members of the U. S. Postal Inspection Service, the U. S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the Connecticut State Police, and the Glastonbury, Hartford, New Haven and Shelton Police Departments. U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, David B. Fein, specifically recognized the efforts of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Virginia State Police and the Indiana State Police for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution of this matter.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Susan L. Wines and Douglas P. Morabito.