Two Men Arrested in Casper Sentenced in Federal Court For Credit Card Fraud
Two men who were arrested in Casper last year for a credit card fraud scheme were sentenced to prison and ordered to pay more than $100,000 in restitution, according to sentences handed down in federal court on Monday.
Ionut Manea and Vasile Florian Grutoiu -- Romanian citizens legally in the United States -- were each sentenced to one year eight months of imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release, and each ordered to pay $101,823 in restitution, according to minutes of the hearing in Cheyenne before U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson.
The judge ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement to begin deportation proceedings for Manea while he is incarcerated. Likewise, Johnson ordered Grutiou to not illegally re-enter the United States.
In March, Manea pleaded guilty to one count of using unauthorized access devices and one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud.
Likewise, Grutoiu pleaded guilty to one count of possession of 15 or more counterfeit or unauthorized access devices and one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud. The government at sentencing dismissed one count of using and attempting to use counterfeit access devices.
The case started in December when Casper police arrested Grutoiu -- who went by the name of Michael Voss -- and Manea on single charges of credit card fraud.
According to charging documents, police were notified of fraudulent ATM activity at Jonah Bank in late November and early December where they made scores of withdrawals using 17 different cards from the same credit union in Arizona. These withdrawals amounted to more than $35,000. More fraudulent withdrawals were found later elsewhere.
Grutiou and Manea were arrested at a local hotel, where police found a magnetic strip reader/encoder, cell phones, laptops, $2,900 in cash, 30 gift cards that had magnetic strips and four-digit codes handwritten on the backs, a Romanian passport belonging to Manea and a Danish passport in Voss's name.
The Arizona credit union told a detective that their clients' credit card numbers had been used at ATMs in Laramie, Rock Springs and Casper. Police believed the card numbers were likely compromised via a "skimming" device placed at fuel pumps at gas stations in the Phoenix area.
The cases were turned over to Wyoming U.S. Attorney's Office for prosecution later in December.