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ATM Thief Sent to Prison for Stealing Nearly $1 Million

A Romanian national has been sentenced by a court in Florida to 70 months in prison and three years of supervised release for his role in an ATM skimming operation.

Sorin Condrache, 36, had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud a financial institution and one count of possession of device making equipment.

A Romanian national has been sentenced by a court in Florida to 70 months in prison and three years of supervised release for his role in an ATM skimming operation.

Sorin Condrache, 36, had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud a financial institution and one count of possession of device making equipment.

According to authorities, Condrache and his co-conspirators installed skimmers on the ATMs of SunTrust Bank in Florida, Maryland, Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. The skimmers, which included card data recorders and pinhole cameras designed to capture PINs, helped the fraudsters obtain information that they could use to make counterfeit cards.

The counterfeit payment cards were then used to withdraw a total of more than $900,000, an amount that Condrache has been ordered to restitute. Investigators determined that skimming devices had been installed on ATMs on 35 occasions.

This is not the first time Condrache has been sent to prison for his role in an ATM skimming scheme. Back in 2006, the man and two other Romanian nationals were sentenced to four years in jail in Ireland, where they had been caught installing skimming devices on ATMs.

At the time, the judge decided to suspend the last year of their prison sentence as long as they left Ireland within seven days of their release.

Authorities in Europe reported disrupting several ATM skimming operations this year. While in many cases the crooks leveraged classic skimming devices, some criminal gangs rely on ATM malware such as Tyupkin (Padpin) to carry out what are known as “jackpotting” attacks. In these operations, the malware can be controlled by the fraudsters via the machine’s PIN pad and instructed to dispense cash without the use of payment cards.

In May, criminals managed to loot millions from cash machines in Japan after hitting 1,400 convenience store ATMs in a coordinated attack.

Related Reading: ATMs Targeted With Improved “Skimer” Malware

Related Reading: Skillful Hackers Drained ATMs Using Malware-laden USB Drives

Related Reading: Authorities Disrupt ATM Skimming Operation

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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