A federal judge on Monday ordered two men to repay $100,000 and serve 20 months each in prison for operating an ATM fraud conspiracy in Wyoming.
The two men — Vasile F. Grutoiu and Ionut Manea — also agreed to turn over a device that can be used to read and write credit card information on the cards’ characteristic strips. Although the two men were residents of Los Angeles at the time of their arrest, are not American citizens and will likely be deported after they serve their sentences.
Casper police arrested the two men in December at an east Casper hotel and drafted court documents alleging the men stole more than $60,000 from Wyoming ATMs, including $35,000 in Natrona County. In federal court documents filed 11 days after the arrests, prosecutors accused the two men of stealing about $20,000 from a Casper ATM.
Although investigators initially thought Grutoiu was named Michael Voss, matching a Danish passport in the hotel room, a homeland security investigator later determined his identity with fingerprint matching. Court documents state Grutoiu was wanted on an Interpol warrant at the time of his arrest, but neither his name nor his aliases are listed in a publicly available list of people wanted in one of the agency’s member countries.
Only about one of every seven such wanted people’s names are made public by Interpol, and the organization did not respond to a request made late Tuesday afternoon for more information about Grutoiu’s alleged crimes elsewhere.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming likewise did not respond by press time to a late Tuesday afternoon request for biographical information pertaining to Grutoiu.
The specifics of the crimes Grutoiu and Manea admitted to as part of their March plea deals with federal prosecutors were not enumerated in publicly available court documents.
Grutoiu pleaded guilty, however, to possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices and conspiracy to commit access device fraud, crimes he only concluded on Dec. 7, the day of his arrest in Casper. Manea entered his guilty pleas to using unauthorized access devices and conspiracy to commit access device fraud, which he likewise said he concluded the day of the arrest.
Under federal law, the term access device refers to tools — including physical equipment but also useful knowledge, such as an account number — that can be used to obtain money and other valuables. In court documents filed after the men pleaded guilty, prosecutors specified Grutoiu and Manea used the small device to put stolen account information on credit cards, then used the counterfeit cards to withdraw money from Wyoming ATMs.
Publicly available documents do not specify all of the banks to which Grutoiu and Manea will pay their total of $101,823 restitution, but among them is a Laramie credit union.