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Suffolk Man Charged In International Fraud, Money Laundering Conspiracy

A Long Island man was among 18 charged in Manhattan Federal Court for international fraud and money laundering.
A Long Island man was among 18 charged in Manhattan Federal Court for international fraud and money laundering. Photo Credit: File

A Long Island man was among 18 charged in an international fraud and money laundering conspiracy.

Officials announced on Thursday, Oct. 10 the unsealing of an indictment and two superseding indictments charging 18 people with participating in an international conspiracy to commit a variety of offenses, including access device fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

Among those charged was Deer Park resident Nikolaos Limberatos, also known as Nicu Limberto, 53, who also has ties to Greece.

Others charged:

  • Florian Claudiu Martin, 44, of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico;
  • Alex Donati, 51, of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico;
  • Raul Ionut Vidrasan, 27, of Perugia, Italy;
  • Mircea Constantinescu, 44, of Copper City, Florida;
  • Cristian Costea, 44, of Queens;
  • Alin Hanes Calugaru, 39, of Sunny Isles, Florida;
  • Ionela Constantinescu, 35, of Cooper City, Florida;
  • Theofrastos Lymberatos, 36, of Queens;
  • Andrew Eliopoulos, 34, of Queens;
  • Valentin Petrescu, 32, of Russellville Arkansas;
  • Peter Samolis, 30, of Queens,
  • Kelly Karki Lam, 42, of Manhattan;
  • George Serban, 32, of Miami, Florida;
  • Dragos Diaconu, 41, of Nashville Tennessee;
  • Cristian Ulmanu, 54, of Russellville, Arkansas;
  • Iuliana Mihailescu, 42, of Queens.

It is alleged that between 2014 and September this year, the 18 participated in a transnational organization that engaged in ATM skimming, which involved illegally obtaining accountholders’ debit card information using devices installed at ATMs.

The group allegedly used that information to manufacture counterfeit and fraudulent debit cards that bore the victim account holders’ account information.  The Skimming Organization’s members then used those cards to fraudulently withdraw cash from victims’ bank accounts.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said that some of the suspects directed, or worked in, teams that the Skimming Organization deployed across the United States in order to carry out ATM skimming attacks, casing ideal locations for the attacks, installing skimming devices on ATMs, removing those devices, and cashing out large numbers of fraudulent debit cards manufactured as a result of the skimming operations.

Others assisted in receiving packages containing skimming devices or component parts that were shipped from other parts of the U.S. and from abroad.  They also assisted in engineering the skimming devices that the Skimming Organization used.

Allegedly, some of the other suspects laundered the proceeds of the skimming attacks through bank accounts, properties, businesses, and the transportation of bulk cash.

In total, the suspects carried out hundreds of ATM skimming operations in New York and across at least 17 other states. They stole more than $20 million from their victims.

Each of the 18 suspects has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. They face up to 30 years in prison on those charges.

Martin, Constantinescu, Limberatos, Costea, Calugaru, and Lam were also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Martin was charged with two additional counts of bank fraud and Donati was charged with access device fraud.

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