Man pleads guilty in Cos Cob ATM-skimming scheme
The ringleader of an ATM-skimming scheme that hit banks throughout Fairfield Country, including one in Greenwich, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
Ion "Tarzan" Constantine, 34, a Romanian citizen, entered his plea in federal court in Bridgeport.
Three women, including Constanine's wife, have also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The four, who all last lived in Queens, are awaiting sentencing and face up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Constantine is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 31.
Constantine, his wife Laura Stiuca, 32, along with Nadia Pasici, 50, and Sabrina Matache, 23, installed skimming devices on automated teller machines and card-swipe-access devices on doors leading to lobbies where ATMs could be accessed after regular business hours.
The group targeted the People's United Bank on East Putnam Avenue in Cos Cob, as well as branches in Stamford and Darien.
The devices enabled the capture of information encoded on bank cards' magnetic strips.
Tiny cameras were placed on the ATMs to record the personal identification numbers used by bank customers as they accessed their accounts at an ATM.
The information collected by Constantine and his co-conspirators enabled them to create counterfeit bank cards that were then used to withdraw money from the customers accounts.
In March and April 2010, Stiuca and Pasici used the PIN-capturing device at the Cos Cob branch. Between April 19-22, 2010, the two women used the stolen information to make ATM withdrawals from bank branches in Stamford and Darien.
On April 22, 2010, Stiuca, Pasici and Matache were arrested by members of the Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force at a branch of People's United Bank in Darien. At the time of the arrests, the defendants had about $2,000 in cash, handwritten notes with addresses of People's United Bank locations, ATM-skimming tools and other items used in the conspiracy. Constantine was arrested on March 23 and has been held since his arrest.
Greenwich Police were part of the investigation led by the Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force.
Staff Writer Frank MacEachern can be reached at email@example.com or 203-625-4434.