3 Romanians sentenced for $21M wire fraud scheme; Georgians among victims

Three men will serve federal prison time after a court convicted them of operating a wire fraud scheme out of Romania and scamming thousands out of more than $21 million.

Tedor Laurentiu Costea, Robert Codrut Dumitrescu and Cosmin Draghici were tried in Atlanta after being extradited from Romania last year to face the charges, according to U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak. The three men pleaded guilty to  charges of wire fraud conspiracy, computer fraud and abuse and aggravated identity theft in connection with the scheme, which lasted from October 2011 through February 2014, Pak said.

Prosecutors said the men compromised computer services in Georgia and throughout the United States and stole bank account information and social security numbers through “vishing” and “smishing.”

Investigators said “vishing” is when a scammer poses as a reputable company in a voicemail or recording in order to convince a victim to reveal personal information. In the same vein, “smishing” is when a schemer uses an SMS or text message to trick a victim.

The men installed interactive voice response software that sent out voice recordings imitating the banks of their victims, and with bulk emailing software they sent out messages tricking victims into disclosing personal information, Pak said.

“When a victim received a telephone call, they would be greeted by a recorded message falsely claiming to be a bank,” Pak said.

The voice software would then prompt the victim to enter their bank account information and social security number, he said. The SMS messages prompted victims to call a number claiming to be a bank, Pak said. During the call, the victim would be encouraged to enter their personal information, he said.

When the men were arrested in Romania, they had more than 42,000 stolen bank account numbers, Pak said.

Dumitrescu, 41, was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Costea, 43, was sentenced to eight years and two months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Draghici, 30, got four years and three months in prison followed by three years of supervised released.

A restitution hearing is scheduled for Aug. 30, Pak said.

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