A Romanian man has been arrested in New York, accused of being part of a gang that installed skimming devices on more than 40 HSBC ATMs before stealing at least $1.5 million from customer accounts.
Authorities say that between last May and his arrest last year, Laurentiu Iulian Bulat was part of a fraud ring installing compromised card readers and pin-hole cameras at HSBC branch ATMs in Manhattan, Long Island, and Westchester.
Once gang members had retrieved the skimming devices, they used the information to create counterfeit cards and withdrew more than $1.5 million using the PINs captured by the pin-hole cameras.
Bulat was arrested last week after HSBC bank video surveillance caught him tampering with two ATMs at a Manhattan branch. US Secret Service agents were called in and arrested the Romanian when he returned later that day holding a flathead screwdriver, which agents say is typically used to place and remove the skimming devices.
Bulat, who is in the US illegally after overstayed his visa, faces up to 60 years in jail on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one of bank fraud.
Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara says: "ATM skimmers are high tech bank robbers. Instead of using a gun and a note, skimmers use fake card readers and hidden cameras to steal a customer's information to get to that customer's money and take it. Often it happens completely undetected."