Member of ATM Skimming Conspiracy Pleads Guilty for Targeting Multiple Bank Locations

Garcia and others sought to defraud financial institutions and their customers by illegally obtaining customer account information

Member of ATM Skimming Conspiracy Pleads Guilty for Targeting Multiple Bank Locations
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April 19, 2017

A member of a scheme that used secret card-reading devices and pinhole cameras on PNC and Bank of America ATMs to steal at least $428,581 has pleaded guilty in federal court.

Joel Abel Garcia, a U.S. citizen from Bronx, New York, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas of the District of New Jersey to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Garcia is the third of 13 defendants charged in this matter to plead guilty. Victor A. Hanganu, a Romanian citizen residing in Bayside, New York, pleaded guilty on April 10, 2017 to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

According to admissions made in connection with the pleas, Garcia, Hanganu, and others sought to defraud financial institutions and their customers by illegally obtaining customer account information, including account numbers and personal identification numbers.

Garcia and Hanganu both admitted that between March 2015 and July 2016 they used counterfeit ATM cards and stolen customer information to withdraw cash from compromised bank accounts at ATMs in New Jersey. As part of his plea, Hanganu also admitted that as part of the scheme he installed "skimming" devices on the ATMs, including pinhole cameras that recorded password entries and card-reading devices capable of recording customer information encoded on magnetic strips.

Garcia, Hanganu, and others used more than 10 ATM cards to conduct fraudulent cash withdrawals in New Jersey, causing customer losses of $428,581. Of that sum, court documents show that $132,805 was personally attributable to Garcia.

In addition to Garcia and Hunganu, Radu Marin, a Romanian citizen residing in Glendale, New York pleaded guilty on March 29, 2017 to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

Sentencing for Garcia and Hanganu is set for August 2, 2017 and July 31, 2017, respectively.