A Romanian national and illegal resident of the United States will spend nearly four years in federal prison for using covert skimming devices on ATMs inside QuikTrip stores to steal debit card data.
David Velcu, 24, also known as Luca Antoni, had been living in Anaheim, California. He pleaded guilty last September to possessing counterfeit unauthorized access devices. He was sentenced Monday in federal court in Kansas City to three years and 10 months in federal prison without parole. Velcu must also pay $5,900 in restitution.
By pleading guilty, Velcu admitted having 78 re-encoded magnetic strip gift cards. He used skimmers and pin cameras installed on ATMs to capture credit/debit card account numbers and associated PINs. These account numbers were then transferred onto magnetic strip cards, using a computer and reader encoder, to withdraw money from stolen accounts.
On April 7-8, 2018, ATM skimming devices were found at three QuikTrip stores in Olathe, Kansas City and Riverside, according to court documents, Investigators learned that two juveniles who installed the skimming device in Olathe arrived three in a silver Audi registered to “Luca Antoni.” That evening, Velcu entered the store and went directly to the ATM, which by then had an out-of-service sign. After staring at the ATM, he bought some food items and left, departing in the Audi.
Investigators found Velcu's vehicle in Independence on April 10 and made a traffic stop. Velcu, the driver, presented a counterfeit Italian driver's license bearing the name Luca Antoni. In the vehicle, officers found a wallet with a Romanian ID with his real name. Velcu’s wife, infant son and 17-year-old brother-in-law were also in the vehicle, and Velcu’s wife told officers she and her brother had entered the U.S. illegally.
Officers also found three re-encoded magnetic strip cards with stickers on the front depicting four-digit codes, three tubes of Super Glue and two small crowbars. Using a card reader, a federal agent found that each magnetic strip contained a 16-digit account that was different than the 16-digit number embossed on the cards.
Investigators also searched Velcu’s hotel room 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 and 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 banks located in California.