Five men are currently being sought by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for their alleged roles in an ATM skimming theft network that targeted debit cards issued by the government to beneficiaries of government aid programs. These individuals, identified as Ilie-Sebastian-Laur Vasilescu, Birdal Osman, Silviu-Florin Spiridon, Bogdan Adrian Purgariu, and an unknown subject known as “Walerian Grabowski,” are considered fugitives. They are accused of installing skimming devices on various points of sale terminals in California to unlawfully access the funds in victims’ electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards. The FBI is urging anyone with information about their whereabouts to contact the Orange County Financial Crimes Working Group.
The FBI and its partner agencies are actively seeking five fugitives who are believed to be involved in an ATM skimming theft network. These individuals are accused of targeting debit cards issued by the government for benefit recipients and illegally accessing funds from victims’ accounts. The scheme involves installing skimming devices on point-of-sale terminals, recording and transmitting sensitive data, and using small cameras to capture victims’ PINs. The financial impact of this operation is significant, with disbursements totaling over $220,000 and substantial losses to government assistance programs. Multiple law enforcement agencies are involved in the investigation, and the FBI is seeking public assistance in locating the wanted fugitives.
The individuals involved in this ATM skimming theft network are accused of specifically targeting debit cards issued by the government as a form of benefit payments. These cards function similarly to regular debit cards and are provided to recipients of federal and state assistance programs. The scheme involves the installation of skimming devices on various point-of-sale terminals in California, allowing the perpetrators to illegally access the funds in victims’ electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards. By capturing sensitive data and PINs, the defendants can then use this information to incur charges or withdraw funds from victims’ accounts without their knowledge or authorization.
The FBI is actively seeking five individuals believed to be involved in the ATM skimming theft network. These fugitives are considered armed and dangerous and are wanted for their alleged roles in defrauding recipients of federal and state benefits. The fugitives are:
- Ilie-Sebastian-Laur Vasilescu
- Birdal Osman
- Silviu-Florin Spiridon
- Bogdan Adrian Purgariu
- Unknown subject (alias: Walerian Grabowski)
The FBI has provided descriptions and photos of the fugitives on their official website, along with links to their wanted posters.
Two individuals involved in the skimming device operation have already been arrested and are awaiting trial. They are:
- Ionut Dragos Munteanu
- Claudiu Mezinu
These defendants are currently in custody and will face legal proceedings for their alleged involvement in the ATM skimming theft network.
Skimming Device Operation
The skimming device operation involves several steps aimed at illegally accessing victims’ funds. The process includes:
Installation of skimming devices: The defendants would install small skimming devices on point-of-sale terminals, such as ATMs or cash registers. These devices are designed to intercept data from access devices, such as debit cards, that are swiped by victims during transactions.
Recording and transmitting data: The skimming devices have the capability to record, store, or transmit the captured data. The defendants would collect victims’ card information, including account numbers and PINs, without their knowledge.
Use of small cameras: In addition to skimming devices, the defendants would attach small cameras to ATM machines to record victims entering their PINs on the number pad. This allowed the defendants to obtain all the necessary information to access victims’ accounts.
The ATM skimming theft network has resulted in significant financial losses for government assistance programs. During the course of the scheme, the defendants have requested disbursements totaling over $220,000 from more than 300 victims’ accounts. The California Department of Social Services estimates the following losses to specific programs:
- CalWorks (cash assistance program): $75,398,202
- CalFresh (food stamps program): $23,378,972
These substantial losses demonstrate the impact of the scheme on government-funded programs intended to assist those in need.
Multiple law enforcement agencies are collaborating in the investigation of the ATM skimming theft network. These agencies include:
- FBI’s Orange County Financial Crimes Working Group
- Irvine Police Department
- San Diego County Bureau of Public Assistance Investigations
- Orange County District Attorney’s Office
- United States Attorney’s Office
The partnership between these agencies allows for a comprehensive approach to identifying and apprehending the fugitives involved in the scheme.
The FBI encourages the public to provide any information regarding the whereabouts of the five fugitives involved in the ATM skimming theft network. If you have any information, you can contact the FBI’s Orange County Financial Crimes Working Group through the following channels:
- FBI’s 24-hour contact number: (310) 477-6565
- Online tips submission: tips.fbi.gov
By providing information, you can assist law enforcement in their efforts to locate and apprehend these wanted individuals.
It is important to remember that all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The case against the defendants involved in the ATM skimming theft network is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. Any legal proceedings will follow the appropriate legal procedures and standards of evidence.
The investigation into the ATM skimming theft network is part of a broader effort by law enforcement agencies to combat various forms of criminal activity. The related investigations include:
- Ten Most Wanted Fugitives: The FBI’s ongoing initiative to apprehend individuals on its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.
- Terrorism: Efforts to prevent and investigate terrorist activities and threats.
- Kidnappings/Missing Persons: Investigations into cases of missing persons and abductions.
- Bank Robbers: Initiatives to combat bank robbery and apprehend individuals involved in such crimes.
The breadth of these related investigations highlights the commitment of law enforcement agencies to maintaining public safety and combating criminal activity.
About the FBI
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) plays a crucial role in protecting the United States from various threats and criminal activities. The FBI’s mission is to uphold and enforce federal laws, conduct investigations, and provide intelligence and homeland security services. The agency operates under the leadership and structure of the FBI Headquarters and numerous field offices across the country.
The FBI places great importance on partnerships with other law enforcement agencies, both at the federal and local levels. Collaborations between agencies enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of investigations, ensuring a comprehensive and coordinated approach to maintaining public safety.
In addition to law enforcement efforts, the FBI actively engages in community outreach programs. These initiatives aim to educate and inform the public about various issues, such as crime prevention, cybersecurity, and safety resources. By fostering partnerships and promoting community engagement, the FBI seeks to build trust and work together with the public to address and prevent criminal activities.
In conclusion, the ATM skimming theft network investigated by the FBI and its partner agencies poses a significant threat to government assistance programs and the individuals who rely on these benefits. The collaboration between law enforcement agencies and the public’s assistance is essential in locating and apprehending the fugitives involved in this criminal operation. By providing information to the FBI, you can contribute to the efforts to bring these individuals to justice and protect the integrity of government-funded programs.