A Romanian National was sentenced to federal prison on March 11 for his role in a bank fraud scheme using counterfeit credit and debit cards to withdraw money from local banks, according to a news release.
Ciprian Simion, 35, of Romania, an experienced credit card skimmer, was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison followed by five years’ supervised release and ordered to pay more than $27,000 in restitution.
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, police searched 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.
After being charged in New York, Simion relocated to Oregon and approximately on or near 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. The pair installed skimming devices on several other area ATMs as well.
Bank card skimming occurs when devices are illegally installed on ATMs, point-of-sale 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. While in Oregon, Simion stole at least 354 account numbers.
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 in Portland. Officers seized several counterfeit bank cards and a skimming device from the pair.
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 Feb. 17, 2021 to 42 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.