ATM skimmer sentenced to five years

ATM skimmer sentenced to five years

A man accused by the FBI of being part of a Toronto-based Romanian organised crime gang has been sentenced to over five years in gaol by a US court for skimming bank account details from cash machines.

According to press reports Vasili Ciocan and co-defendant, Romulus Pasca, were indicted by a federal grand jury in May 2007 after witnesses saw them acting suspiciously near an ATM in Monroeville, Pennsylvania.

The men, who were in the US illegally, were charged with using bogus cards made with account information garnered from devices installed on ATMs.

The FBI says government wiretaps and records show Ciocan was a key player in an ATM skimming operation run by a Romanian syndicate in Canada that was also involved in kidnapping, extortion and other crimes.

Ciocan had already been charged in Ohio - along with another man, trucker Petru Vascan - with stealing more than $53,000 from cash machines. The men were accused of placing magnetic card readers and miniature cameras on ATMs owned by Fifth Third Bank and KeyBank to steal information from about 400 customers.

Vascan pleaded guilty in Ohio last year and was sentenced to six months in prison, plus three years' probation.

The Ohio charges against Ciocan were folded into the Pennsylvania case and he pleaded guilty in December to bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and access device fraud.

US District Judge Nora Barry Fischer sentenced Ciocan - who was handed a two year prison term in Canada in 2004 for a similar scam - to five years and one month in jail and ordered him to pay more than $49,000 for the Ohio crimes and over $17,000 to four banks in Pennsylvania.

Reports suggest the government will deport Ciocan after he serves his sentence. Pasca has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial next month.

Meanwhile, two professional poker players who exploited a glitch in HBOS ATM machines to steal over £150,000 with the intention of funding a gambling spree in Las Vegas, have been sentenced to 18 months each at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

Brothers Mohammed Imran, 33, and Mohammed Irfan, 36 - who were once rated among the top poker players in the UK - planned to use the cash to play in a series of high-stakes competitions including the Annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

The pair are thought to have made hundreds of withdrawals at cash machines across Glasgow between 29 May and 1 June 2005.

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