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Romanian cops to $150k ATM skimming spree

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A Romanian national has admitted he defrauded Bank of America of about $150,000 in a scheme that secretly recorded customer information as it was entered into automatic teller machines.

Victor Vasile Constantin, 23, pleaded guilty in US District Court in Connecticut to one count each of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Constantin's involvement in the three-month scheme cost the bank about $150,000, according to federal prosecutors.

According to prosecutors, Constantin attached skimming devices to Bank of America ATMs that automatically captured the data stored on the magnetic strips of customers' bank cards. He also installed pinhole-sized video cameras that recorded the passwords entered during transactions.

Constantin and unnamed accomplices then used the captured information to create cloned debit cards that allowed them to make withdrawals against the victims' accounts. The skimming scheme was carried out against multiple Bank of America branches in Connecticut's Fairfield county.

Constantin is scheduled to be sentenced on February 4. He faces a maximum 30 years on the bank fraud charge and a mandatory two-year sentence, consecutive to any other term, for aggravated identity theft. He has been detained since late March. ®

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