ASCENSION PARISH, La. (WAFB) - A man from Romania has pleaded guilty to skimming debit cards and using the information to make unauthorized withdrawals from ATMs.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) says on Wednesday, July 24, Constantin Tanase, 40, of Bacau, Romania, pleaded guilty to using and trafficking in unauthorized debit cards. Tanase faces jail time, a fine, and a period of supervised release.
The DOJ says while making his plea, Tanase admitted that between Nov. 9 and 15, 2018, he was part of a group that traveled to the Baton Rouge area to conduct ATM fraud. The group gave out fraudulent debit cards to its members and told them to withdraw money at certain ATMs until the cards stopped working. The rightful owners of the debit cards were unaware of this criminal activity and did not authorize the withdrawals, the DOJ says.
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On Nov. 14, 2018, Tanase was a passenger in a vehicle that drove up to a bank ATM in Gonzales. Tanase then put black tape over the ATM camera lens, conducted transactions, then removed the tape. In a 90-minute period, Tanase used more than 40 unauthorized cards to fraudulently withdraw more than $7,000 from the ATM.
“Access device fraud including the fraudulent use of personal financial information will not be tolerated in this district, and our office is committed to protecting consumers and businesses from these criminals. Special thanks to our prosecutor and to the dedicated professionals from the U.S. Secret Service and the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office who worked on this investigation and prosecution,” said U.S. Attorney Brandon Fremin.
“This case is a perfect example of the strong partnerships between federal and local law enforcement, specifically those departments who are members of the Southwest Louisiana Financial Crimes Task Force which is overseen by the Secret Service. The resources of the task force help bring criminals to justice with minimal impact to victims and the community,” said Resident Agent in Charges of the U.S. Secret Service in Baton Rouge Tara McLeese.