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Romanian Fraudster Arrested for ATM Skimming Scam

Laurentiu Bulat, a Romanian citizen living illegally in the United States, was arrested on January 5 on multiple charges after taking part in $1.5 million skimming and counterfeit card operation that targeted at least 40 HSBC ATMs in New York. Although Bulat was arrested recently he has been repeating this scam for some time as the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Attorney’s office of the Southern District of New York have been investigating an ATM skimming scam against HSBC New York branches since May, 2011.

It is believed that a fraud ring is behind the ATM skimming scam against HSBC bank, although Bulat has been the only member arrested to date. On January 5 HSBC’s video surveillance caught Bulat tampering with an ATM in Manhattan. Law enforcement was called, who then confirmed that a skimmer had been installed, and waited for Bulat to return. Later Bulat came to remove the skimming device and the information it had captured, he was arrested on the spot with a screwdriver in his pocket.

The fraud ring made use of both a card skimmer and tiny camera to capture each victims Personal Identification Number. The fraud ring then created counterfeit cards using the stolen ATM card numbers and made fraudulent withdrawals using the counterfeit cards and the customer’s PIN. It is believed that the fraud ring is responsible for $1.5 million dollars in losses stolen from HSBC customer bank accounts. Because the ring was able to hide their skimmer and camera effectively in HSBC ATMs they continued to target at least 40 HSBC ATM locations in Manhattan, Westchester and Long Island, New York. Because the fraud ring was able get away with the skimming and counterfeit card scam they continued to repeat their operation for at least six months. Although an investigation into this scam started last May, it is unclear how long this operation may have been going on before then.


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