George Dragusin, a Romanian citizen, pleaded guilty last Friday to an ATM skimming scheme involving several banks across different states including Nevada. The 63-years old who goes by the nickname Einstein pleaded guilty in federal court in Connecticut to “conspiracy and identity theft charges that defrauded banks from coast to coast,” U.S. attorney’s office stated.
The Justice Department announced that Dragusin was charged with ATM skimming in Nevada, Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, and California. Dragusin recently pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft and is scheduled to be sentenced on November 15. If found guilty Dragusin can face up to 35 years in prison.
The Secret Service in Last Vegas and the Metropolitan Police Department opened investigations after the People’s United Bank reported 35 instances of ATM skimming at banks in Connecticut. Law enforcement concluded that Dragusin was placing skimming devices at ATMs to attain the customer’s account numbers and PINs. The People’s United Bank, for instance, lost $286,069 from ATM skimming. According to the attorney’s office, banks lose more than $645,000 yearly on skimming accounts.
Dragusin along with his associates developed sophisticated card-reader devices that are capable of reading and storing customer’s bank account information after they performed their routine bank transactions at targeted ATMs. The prosecutor office stated that “the conspirators also hid pinhole cameras in panels designed to match existing ATM components.
The card reader devices that were installed on the ATMs could secretly read the identity and account information on the magnetic strip of the customer’s ATM cards. Moreover, the cameras the hid recorded the customer’s keystrokes as they entered their PIN information. Dragusin and his accomplices gathered the information and created ATM cards allowing them to withdraw millions of dollars for bank accounts. 16 other people were arrested along with Dragusin and 11 of them pleaded guilty.
More about Dragusin
The accused fled the U.S back in July 2013 after federal agents arrest various member sop his skimming scheme. Later in September 2013 he was arrested in Sweden and extradited to the U.S where he was charged on a six-count criminal complaint.
He obtained a Law degree from the Nicole Titulescu University as well as a master’s degree in Information Security from the Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest. Dragusin worked for 10 years in the information technology field before he started coordinating the IT security unit for a financial institution in Romania He later took the role of Vice-president of the IT and C Security Commission of the Romanian Banking Association and was a board member of ISACA Romania chapter. Dragusin participates regularly in different security conferences and was invited to guest speak at several security events. With a great deal of experience in the field of IT, Security Dragusin was able to create and implement devices breaching complicated security systems.