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Published On: Mon, Nov 5th, 2018

Romanian National and Two Others charged in Connection with ATM Skimming

One Romanian national was sentenced and two Romanian nationals pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Boston in connection with an ATM skimming scheme operating throughout Massachusetts and other states including Connecticut, New York and South Carolina.

Nicusor Bonculescu, 24, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young to three years in prison and three years of supervised release. Judge Young also ordered Bonculescu to pay restitution of $72,922. In March 2018, Bonculescu pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, conspiracy to use counterfeit access devices and aggravated identity theft.

During separate hearings, Suedin Chiciu, 28, and Florinel Vaduv, 22, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity and conspiracy to use counterfeit access devices. Vaduva also pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft. Judge Young scheduled sentencing hearings for Jan. 19, 2019. In May 2017, Bonculescu, Vaduva, and twelve others were indicted in connection with the ATM skimming scheme. In August 2018, Chiciu was added to the case by superseding indictment.

Photo/Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke

The defendants, except for one, were members of the Hornea Crew (“the Crew”), led by Constantin Denis Hornea and Ludemis Hornea, and engaged in ATM skimming – obtaining debit card numbers and PINs from unsuspecting bank customers, creating counterfeit cards, and making unauthorized withdrawals from the victims’ bank accounts.

Over a period of 18 months, the Crew installed skimming devices and made unauthorized withdrawals in seven states, including Massachusetts. In particular, members of the Crew installed skimming devices in the following locations: Amherst, Bellingham, Billerica, Braintree, Chicopee, Quincy, Southwick, Waltham, Weymouth, and Whately, Mass.; Enfield, Conn.; Columbia, Greenville, Greenwood, Mauldin, and Saluda, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; and Yadkinville, N.C.  The Crew made unauthorized withdrawals at ATMs in approximately 29 Massachusetts towns; seven Connecticut towns; six New York towns; Salem, N.H.; and Sumter, S.C.

Members of the Crew transferred money throughout the United States and to Romania and the People’s Republic of China. Some of those transfers were for the purchase of skimming devices and related components from abroad.

In May 2018, the leaders of the conspiracies, Constantin Denis Hornea, 23, and his brother Ludemis Hornea, 21, were sentenced by Judge Young. Constantin Hornea was sentenced to 65 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $242,141 in restitution and a money judgment of $54,260. Ludemis Hornea was sentenced to 42 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $57,422 in restitution and a money judgment of $11,124. Of the 15 defendants charged in the case, seven have been convicted and sentenced, three have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing, three are awaiting trial and two have not been arrested.

The charge of conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering conspiracy provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and fine of $250,000. The charge of conspiracy to use counterfeit access devices provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and fine of $250,000. The charge of aggravated identity theft provides for a mandatory, consecutive sentence of two years in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, made the announcement today. Assistance with the investigation was also provided by the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Postal Service; Massachusetts Department of Correction; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the Amherst, Billerica, Braintree, Boston, Quincy, Southwick, Waltham, Whately, and Westwood Police Departments; Connecticut State Police; Greenwich Police Department; the New York City Police Department; Houston Police Department; South Carolina Law Enforcement Division; Richland County (South Carolina) Sheriff’s Department; Florence and Saluda (South Carolina) Police Departments; and the Solicitor’s Offices of Greenville and Saluda Counties. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy E. Moran of Lelling’s Organized Crime and Gang Unit is prosecuting the case.

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