File photo of FBI investigators in Thousand Oaks, Calif., on Nov. 8, 2018. (Robyn Beck /AFP/Getty Images)
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) joined forces with Romanian law enforcement to arrest 48 people suspected to have ties with an organized crime group engaged in ATM skimming and money laundering in California, the FBI announced Dec. 4.
Many of the people and Romanian locations targeted in the three-year international investigation are suspected of being associated with Florian Tudor, an alleged leader of an ATM skimming organization known as the Riviera Maya Gang, based in Cancún, Mexico.
Mr. Tudor is awaiting trial in Mexico on fraud charges and faces attempted murder charges in Romania.
During the operation, Romanian law enforcement seized around $1 million worth of various currencies and 11 vehicles.
The lengthy investigation
conducted by the FBI and Romanian authorities targeted organized crime figures involved in ATM skimming operations in the United States and money laundering. The individuals are suspected of sending the profits made from the crimes in the U.S. through western Europe back to Romania.
ATM skimming is a criminal operation that includes attaching a fake credit card reader over a real card reader, such as those at ATM machines. The fake readers look identical to the real device but are equipped with electronic recorders that capture the financial information on the credit card, which is later used to take money from the account.
So far, multiple people associated with the Riviera Maya Gang have been arrested by the FBI and charged in Los Angeles District Court with conspiracy, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and visa fraud, according to the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
Agents and prosecutors have recovered over 8,000 stolen credit card numbers belonging to U.S. victims and seized nearly $1 million in cash and cryptocurrency as a result of efforts targeted at ATM skimmers in southern California, according to the FBI.
The U.S. Secret Service estimates about $1 billion
is stolen every year nationwide by thieves using credit card skimmers.
Photos taken at a workshop that was allegedly use to commit ATM fraud with miscellaneous paraphernalia, in November 2023. (Courtesy of FBI Los Angeles)