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  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
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  3. 6 Charged in Multistate ATM and Retail Skimming Conspiracy After HSI Investigation

6 Charged in Multistate ATM and Retail Skimming Conspiracy After HSI Investigation

Release Date: July 10, 2024

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Six individuals were charged by criminal complaint June 14 in a multistate ATM and retail skimming conspiracy after an investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New England. Three of the six made their initial appearances in federal court July 9.

HSI special agents arrested Ignat Codreanu, 23, of Anaheim and Placentia, California, a citizen of Romania; Robby Vicson Codreanu, 20, of Placentia, California, a citizen of Great Britian; and Mila Ciuciu, 20, of Placentia, California, a citizen of Romania. Each is charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud. HSI also arrested Armando Ion Codreanu, 23, of Placentia, California, a citizen of Ireland, and Nicolas Longin Codreanu, 21, of Placentia, California, a citizen of Romania and Ireland, who were charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

An arrest warrant has been issued for a sixth defendant, Ionut Zamfir, 37, of Los Angeles, a citizen of Romania who is currently a fugitive. Zamfir is charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Charging documents allege that members of the conspiracy placed skimming devices on ATMs at banks in Bristol, Warren, Johnston and Westerly, Rhode Island, and at retail store self-checkout terminals in Johnston, Warwick and Coventry, Rhode Island, as well as in Avon, Raynham, Seekonk, North Attleboro, Quincy and Walpole, Massachusetts. Skimming devices allow fraudsters to read and capture account information and PINs when customers swipe or insert their credit, debit and EBT cards to complete a purchase. The information is then used to create counterfeit cards that can be used to fraudulently obtain cash from victims’ bank accounts or make purchases. Members of the conspiracy allegedly used the account information skimmed from local victims’ cards to purchase goods at various retailers and withdrew nearly $300,000 from their bank accounts.

“The complaint alleges these six individuals are members of an organization who defrauded thousands of residents of Rhode Island and beyond of their hard-earned money. The ATM and point of sale skimming equipment they used worked quickly and efficiently to steal credit card information, allowing them to clone and illegally access credit cards, bank accounts and other financial accounts of unsuspecting victims,” said HSI New England Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Krol. “HSI is a leader in illicit finance investigations and is committed to working with our partners in the public and private sector to protect the integrity of our financial systems.”

According to charging documents, in October 2023, the Bristol Police Department received a report from a local bank that a skimming device had been discovered on a drive-through ATM at a local bank. The bank provided HSI and Bristol Police with surveillance footage and still photographs that allegedly clearly show two men placing and removing a skimming device from the ATM. Further investigation by HSI determined that at least one of the individuals was allegedly also visible in security camera images installing skimming devices at retail locations Rhode Island and Massachusetts in September and December 2023.

Additionally, in December 2023, HSI learned of skimming devices that had been placed on ATMs at two bank branch offices in Westerly. Security images and footage of the individuals who were likely responsible for the placement and removal of the devices and for withdrawing cash from compromised bank accounts allegedly match images of individuals responsible for skimming at other locations around the region.

“The scale, scope and brazen nature of these defendants’ scheme to steal the financial account information of unsuspecting consumers and use it to help themselves to funds and property, as we have alleged in federal court, is staggering,” remarked U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Zachary A. Cunha. “I commend the superb work of Homeland Security Investigations, as well as our local law enforcement partners, for their diligent and effective work to disrupt this ring of thieves, and ensure that those responsible face a reckoning in federal court.”

A federal criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The matter was investigated by HSI New England’s Providence Resident Agent in Charge Office and the Bristol Police Department, with the assistance of the Warwick Police Department, the Coventry Police Department, the Westerly Police Department, the Johnston Police Department, the Seekonk Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General, HSI Lafayette, HSI New York and HSI Los Angeles.

Last Updated: 07/10/2024
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