Missouri News: Romanian National, David Velcu aka Luca Antoni, Sentenced for ATM Skimming

Group Used Skimming Devices to Steal Debit Card Numbers, PINs from ATMs in Olathe, KCK, Riverside

KANSAS CITY, MO (STL.News) – A Romanian national was sentenced in federal court yesterday for a scheme to covertly steal and utilize illicitly obtained debit card data by placing skimming devices on ATMs inside QuikTrip stores in Olathe, Kan., Kansas City, Kan., and Riverside, Mo.

David Velcu, also known as Luca Antoni, 24, a citizen and national of Romania who is illegally present in the United States, residing in Anaheim, Calif., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner to three years and 10 months in federal prison without parole.  The court also ordered Velcu to pay $5,904 in restitution.

On Sept. 13, 2018, Velcu pleaded guilty to possessing counterfeit unauthorized access devices.  Velcu admitted that he possessed 78 re-encoded magnetic strip gift cards.  Velcu engaged in a scheme using skimmers and pin cameras installed on ATMs in order to capture credit/debit card account numbers as well as the associated pin number.  These account numbers were then transferred onto magnetic strip cards, using a computer and reader encoder, with the purpose of using the fraudulent access devices and associated PINs to withdraw money from the stolen accounts.

Between April 7 and 9, 2018, ATM skimming devices were located on three ATMs at Quick-Trip locations in Olathe, Kansas City, and Riverside.  The investigation revealed that two juveniles who placed the skimming device on the ATM in Olathe on April 7, 2018, arrived at that location in a silver Audi A6 registered to Luca Antoni, an alias used by Velcu.  That evening, Velcu entered the store and proceeded directly to the ATM, which by then had an “Out-of-Service” sign.  After staring at the ATM, Velcu bought some food items and left the store, departing in a silver Audi A6.

Law enforcement investigators located Velcu’s vehicle on April 10, 2018, and Independence, Mo., police officers conducted a traffic stop.  Velcu, the driver, presented a counterfeit Italian driver’s license bearing the name of Luca Antoni.  When officers searched Velcu, they found a wallet with a Romanian identification card with his real name.  Velcu’s wife, infant son, and 17-year-old brother-in-law were also in the vehicle.  Velcu’s wife told officers that she and her brother had entered the United States illegally.

Officers searched Velcu’s vehicle and found three re-encoded magnetic strip cards with stickers on the front depicting four-digit codes, three tubes of Super Glue and two small crow bars.  Upon deploying a card reader to ascertain the data on the magnetic strips, a federal agent was able to ascertain that each one of them contained a 16-digit account that was different than the 16 digit number embossed on the cards.

Investigators also searched Velcu’s hotel room, where he was staying with his family and the two juveniles, and found 78 re-encoded gift cards and three laptop computers that contained more than 1,000 compromised card numbers.  They also found other equipment needed to install skimming devices and to re-encode the gift cards, including memory chips/cards, circuit boards, super glue, plastic fascia plates, lithium battery packs, cutting tools, and cables.

According to court documents, the fraudulent magnetic strip cards found in Velcu’s possession were analyzed by the U.S. Secret Service.  Eighteen account holders were identified involving 17 different banks located in California.

This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberlee L. Moore.  It was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, the Olathe, Kan., Police Department, the Riverside, Mo., Police Department, the Independence, Mo., Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and ICE’s Enforcement Removal Operations.