US authorities have charged four men with installing skimming technology at ATMs and fake teller PIN pads in branches, recording victims' bank account information and using the stolen data to steal at least $1.5 million.
The men are accused of using skimming devices at ATMs and teller PIN pads (machines where customers swipe their cards and enter PINs before dealing with the bank employee) at Citi and JP Morgan branches in New York, Chicago and Miami.
The defendants, and co-conspirators, are alleged to have simply replaced the teller PIN pads with identical-looking fakes that recorded customer information. For the ATMs, they placed PIN pad overlays on top of the real ones that recorded the data.
Between March 2010 and this May the gang is thought to have used this information to steal at least $1.5 million.
Mihail Draghici, Ionel Dedulescu, Didi Theodor Ciulei and Laurentiu Mugurel Manta are all charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to commit access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
Draghici and Dedulescu - who have been charged with an additional bank-fraud charge - were arrested in December as they tried to board an international flight from Miami. The other two were picked up in Chicago last month.
If convicted, the defendants face maximum sentences off over 60 years.
Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara saysd: "Skimming is a devious form of high-tech robbery that threatens the integrity of our financial institutions and the privacy of banking customers. Today's Indictment deals a significant blow to one alleged skimming ring, and along with our partners at the Secret Service we will continue to pursue and prosecute the perpetrators of these schemes."