Man with history of international ATM skimming caught in Alaska

Published: Jul. 20, 2020 at 6:41 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - He’s used over 12 different aliases. He was arrested in Australia for conspiracy to defraud. Now, he’s being charged for possession of a counterfeit access device in U.S. District Court in Alaska.

The man, known in this case as Marcus Catalin Rosu, has a Romanian passport and has been the subject of a U.S. Postal Inspector’s investigation since February, according to charging information in USA v. Rosu.

Investigators say Rosu is believed to have used skimmers to steal card data from people in California and Alaska.

“Skimming” is a term describing the use of a device that captures credit card numbers which can then be made into counterfeit cards.

From May 12-18 alone, investigators say Rosu used skimmers to take thousands of dollars from people in Alaska.

“Customer cards from multiple Alaska financial institutions were compromised and cashed-out at Alaska USA ATMs across Anchorage withdrawing approximately $23,000,” a written statement from the investigation said.

That’s a small amount compared to the total Rosu deposited and withdrew, charging documents say. From August 2019 to March 2020, investigators say Rosu made $181,270 in cash deposits according to records they obtained from Wells Fargo.

A skimming scheme in Alaska had been on investigators’ radar since February when Postal Inspectors identified a suspicious parcel Rosu is believed to have sent to Palmer on Feb. 4. After executing a federal search warrant, the parcel was found to have over 500 “gold magnetic strip cards” from different financial institutions. The parcel’s cards were suspected of containing stolen bank data.

Days after the parcel was identified, Alaska State Troopers reported that they were concerned ATM fraud was occurring in the Mat-Su valley.

In June, investigators used fingerprint cards of Rosu from Australian authorities and were able to match them with fingerprints found on the suspicious parcel.

All through this time, Rosu continued to make $300-$600 cash deposits — these deposits were small enough that banks were not required to report them through the Bank Secrecy Act requirements, charges say.

In early July, a Matanuska Valley Federal Credit Union employee noticed a suspicious individual at the Willow, Alaska branch. While most people drive to the building, this individual had biked, so the employee looked through the ATM footage and found a device likely used for skimming had been placed there.

Investigators searched for Rosu in Willow, Palmer and Big Lake but were unable to find him.

An alert was put out to law enforcement officers asking them to detain Rosu if they engaged with him, and it finally happened, after he caused a disturbance at the Enterprise counter of the Ted Stevens International Airport.

“... rather than turning in the car, Rosu wanted to exchange it for another car. Enterprise denied his request and Rosu caused a disturbance which led to the Airport Police responding,” charging documents say.

Investigators have since searched Rosu’s rental vehicle and hotel room, finding a bag of suspected ATM skimming pieces and — in the ceiling tiles of his hotel room — three bundles of cards similar to those in the suspicious parcel.

Rosu had been caught placing skimmers in other places in the U.S. including a Navy Federal Credit Union in Connecticut, charges say. The charges also state that Rosu has a history of skimming in the United Kingdom as well as the U.S. and Australia.

Rosu is being held in Anchorage and is charged with one count of “knowingly and with intent to defraud, had control of and custody of, and possessed access device-making equipment and this control, custody, and possession affected interstate and foreign commerce,” charges from the U.S. Attorney state.

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