Feds indict 9 in multi-state ATM skimmer scheme

FBI says 2 of those indicted are still wanted; all others have been arrested

FBI says 2 of those indicted are still wanted; all others have been arrested.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Federal prosecutors announced Thursday that a group of accused fraudsters has been indicted on charges related to a $100,000 ATM skimming scheme that spanned five states, including Florida and Georgia.

The indictment charges each of them with conspiracy to commit access device fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years and six months for a conviction.

According to prosecutors, the scheme netted $112,780, and the federal government plans to make them pay it back.

According to the indictment, between March 2019 and June 2020, the defendants stole debit or credit card information and funds from victims by placing skimmers on ATMs in Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, and New York, including in St. Augustine, Atlantic Beach and Jacksonville.

After they removed the skimmers, the conspirators used the stolen account information and PINs to create fake debit or credit cards, prosecutors said.

FBI Special Agent Mike Day has been working on the case and said as soon as the group would steal enough money, they’d take off -- returning to their home country. He had some tips of things to look for to avoid becoming a victim.

  • Use ATMs that are inside a bank, not outside ATMs, which are more accessible to the thieves after hours
  • Cover your hand when you punch in your PIN in case a hidden camera on a skimmer is recording your every move.
  • Check your bank statements often,for any unrecognized charges.

If you think you’re a victim, contact the FBI.

Those indicted were:

  • Adrian “Bighi” Kiraly
  • Andrei “Tony” Andrei,
  • Bogdan Ardei,
  • Nelu Onica
  • Vergiu Corneliu “Cornel” Galbenu,
  • Ovidiu “Ovi” Meczak
  • Nedal Al-Khomos,
  • Ovidiu Gabriel Musteata
  • Doru Maris

The FBI said Onica and Maris are still wanted and asked for the public’s help to track them down. The others involved have already been arrested, an FBI spokesperson said.

PHOTOS: Wanted poster for Doru Maris | Wanted poster for Nelu Onica

About the Authors:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.

Joy Purdy co-anchors the 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts with Tarik Minor and the 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts with Kent Justice.