SALT LAKE CITY – A Romanian citizen pleaded guilty to bank fraud in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City Wednesday morning, admitting he and his co-conspirators devised an ATM skimming scheme that allowed them to steal the personal identifiers from at least 2,732 victims and caused a loss to the victim bank of approximately $216,157.30.
As a part of his plea agreement, Alexandru Cosmin Licsor, 38, admitted that from about Jan. 10 to about Feb. 20, 2015, he installed skimming devices equipped with magnetic card readers, data recorders, digital cameras, and batteries on some Zions Bank ATMs. The skimming equipment collected bank customer card data and the camera recorded the PIN pad as customers entered their PINs.
After collecting the data and video recordings, Licsor’s co-conspirators created counterfeit credit and debit cards. Licsor and others used or attempted to use the counterfeit cards on multiple occasions at non-Zions bank ATMs in Utah and other places. For example, in February 2015, they made an $800 ATM withdrawal from a Zions Bank account without the authorization of the account holder. The co-conspirators in the case have not been identified.
While the approximate loss amount for the scheme $216,157.30, the attempted loss amount for the fraud was $363,035.83. (The attempted loss amount includes things like attempts to withdraw more from an account that the bank would allowed.)
The plea agreement includes an agreement that the sentence imposed in the case will be between 24 months and 71 months. The ultimate sentence is subject to the approval of the Court. The judge can consider conduct Licsor engaged in which either was not charged, not pleaded to, or both in determining a sentence. Sentencing in the case is set for Sept. 23, 2020.
Licsor was charged with access device fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft in a six-count superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in December 2016. A warrant was issued for his arrest. After being on the run for more than two years, he was arrested in Romania and extradited to the United States in November 2019 to face the Utah charges.
The FBI’s Cyber Task Force, which includes officers with the Utah Department of Public Safety, investigated the case. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in securing the defendant’s extradition from Romania.