Authorities in Henry and Patrick counties were among the local law enforcement agencies to participate in in a federal investigation that culminated with the sentencing of a Romanian national on Monday.
Marius Catalui, who traveled to the United States and participated in an ATM skimming conspiracy, was sentenced Monday to 30 months in prison, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Catalui, 47, pleaded guilty in June 2021 to one count of access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
According to court documents, between December 2018 and May 2019, Catalui and others worked together to obtain personal identifying information, including debit and credit card numbers and PINs from bank customers without lawful authority and used that data to make unauthorized cash withdrawals from the victims for their personal gain.
The group utilized device-making equipment, commonly referred to as “skimming devices,” to facilitate this scheme by installing them into card readers on ATMs at federally-insured banks throughout the Western District of Virginia. In conjunction with small hidden cameras that they placed on the ATMs, Catalui’s group stole customers’ PINs and account numbers, re-encoded the information onto blank plastic cards, and then used those cards to withdraw over $300,000 before being apprehended.
In addition to over two years of prison time, Catalui was also ordered to pay $351,642 in restitution to the impacted banks.
U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh made the announcement.
In addition to the local agencies, others involved included those sheriff’s offices in Botetourt and Campbell counties, as well as police departments in Roanoke County, Farmville, Blacksburg and Lynchburg. The United States Secret Service also helped investigate the case.