ATM Skimming is a very real trend in Western and Eastern Europe these days. As the name suggests, criminals look to skim payment card details and copy them for fraudulent activity. A member of such a  large-scale ATM skimming ring has been sentenced to 57 months in prison this week. Stealing bank account information from customers throughout the US region is heavily frowned upon and will land you in jail eventually.

ATM Skimming Is Becoming Too Popular

It is safe to say ATM skimming is becoming more popular than it has every been. Criminals attempt to steal card-reading devices into existing bank ATMs, in the hopes of stealing payment card data. Once they obtain this data, criminals can either use it to clone the payment card or sell that information on the deep web.

One of the people involved in such can ATM skimming scheme goes by the nickname of Chioru, real name Robert Make or Marcel Varga, depending on whom you ask. The was involved in a major fraud scheme that installed these skimming devices and pinhole cameras on ATMs throughout several regions in the United States. Mainly New York, New Jersey, and Florida were popular states for this illegal practices.

The bank account information obtained from this skimming fraud ring allowed the group to defraud customers for a total of US$5m. It is possible this number will go up in the coming weeks, as the investigation has not come to a close yet. Customers from multiple financial institutions were defrauded in the process, including Citibank, Wells Fargo, and TD Bank users.

Together with two other individuals, the sophisticated card-reading devices were developed and installed in ATMs without anyone noticing. Moreover, they also obtained personal identification numbers, which allow for bank cards to be cloned and used to withdraw money from ATMs anywhere in the world. In most cases, their skimmers and cameras were removed after just a few days, attempting to keep their activity hidden from bank security staff.

This particular ATM skimming operation is one of the largest to be uncovered by US law enforcement. A total of 16 individuals have involved no this scheme, and 15 of them have been identified and charged already. It remains unclear if the final member has yet to be apprehended, though.

Even though Mate has been sentenced to a 57-month jail sentence, that is not his only punishment. Judge Martini also sentenced him to paying a restitution of US$7,397,270. Which is quite a significant amount? In fact, that is more than the current estimated totals of the amount obtained through this skimming tactic, to begin with. Plus, Mate will also have to adhere to five years of supervised release.

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