PORTLAND, Ore.—A Romanian National was sentenced to federal prison today for his role in a bank fraud scheme wherein he and an accomplice used counterfeit credit and debit cards to withdraw money from local banks, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug.
Ciprian Simion, 35, of Romania, was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison followed by five years’ supervised release. Simon was also ordered to pay more than $27,000 in restitution.
According to court documents, Simion is an experienced credit card skimmer. In April 2018, he was arrested in New York City after using fake ATM cards and pins to withdraw cash from an ATM. After his arrest, Simion consented to a search of his hotel room where officers found nearly 100 forged debit cards and three forgery devices. He was later indicted by a New York grand jury on more than 200 counts related to his fraud activity. The New York court issued a warrant for his arrest in August 2018.
At some point after being charged in New York, Simion relocated to Oregon. His precise movements in the months leading to his arrest in Oregon are unknown. On or about March 16, 2019, Simion and an accomplice, Gabriel Tigmarau, 51, also of Romania, installed a credit card skimmer on a Rivermark Community Credit Union ATM in Newberg, Oregon. Simion and Tigmarau later removed the device to obtain stolen account information and pins, damaging the ATM in the process. Around the same time, the pair installed skimming devices on several other area ATMs.
Simion and Tigmarau used the stolen account information to produce counterfeit credit and debit cards and withdraw cash from local ATMs. On April 27, 2019, officers from the Portland Police Bureau arrested Simion and Tigmarau after they were caught tampering with an IBEW Credit Union ATM on SE Washington Street in Portland. Officers seized several counterfeit bank cards and a skimming device from the pair. While in Oregon, Simion stole at least 354 account numbers.
On July 24, 2019, a federal grand jury in Portland returned an eleven-count indictment charging Simion and Tigmarau with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, counterfeit access device fraud, illegal possession of device-making equipment, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft. On July 29, 2020, Simion pleaded guilty to one count each of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Simon’s New York state charges are still pending.
On November 4, 2020, Tigmarau pleaded guilty to the same charges. He was sentenced on February 17, 2021 to 42 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Portland Police Bureau. It was prosecuted by Quinn P. Harrington, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.
Bank card skimming occurs when devices are illegally installed on ATMs, point-of-sale (POS) terminals, or fuel pumps to capture cardholders’ bank account information or PINs. Criminals use the stolen data to create fake debit or credit cards and steal from victims’ accounts. It is estimated that skimming costs financial institutions and consumers more than $1 billion each year. Consumers are encouraged to look carefully at ATMs and POS terminals before using them. If you observe evidence of tampering or anything unusual, do not use the machine. If you suspect you’ve been the victim of skimming, please contact your financial institution immediately.