Romanian Indicted InCard-Skimming

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. - (03/06/06)-- A Rumanian immigrant suspected ofdraining hundreds of thousands of dollars from credit unionaccounts through an ATM skimming scheme was indicted by a federalgrand jury last week on charges of access device fraud. ClaudiuHotea, 32, is believed to be the ringleader of an Eastern Europeangang that attached skimming devices to the gas pumps at area Arcostations and used identities and PINs obtained to manufacture phonydebit and stored value cards. The cards were used to withdraw cashat area casinos. Hoteau was arrested Jan. 24 at the Thunder ValleyCasino with five gift cards encoded with stolen PINs and about$1,400 cash he had withdrawn from ATMs there. Four other EasternEuropean immigrants were arrested after local police staked out thecasino. The gang used the phony cards to try to make as much as$240,000 in cash withdrawals and succeeded in withdrawing at least$110,000 at Thunder Valley. The gang is believed to have hit mostor all of the 10 casinos in northern California. and withdrawn asmuch as $500,000. Among the victims were members of: The Golden 1CU, SAFE CU, Travis CU, Technology CU, San Mateo CU, Sierra CentralCU, Star One CU, Valley CU, Sacramento CU and Navy FCU and severalmajor banks.

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