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Romanian national sentenced to 75 months Friday for bank card scheme targeting benefit recipients

Department of Justice / KEYT

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Marius Oprea, a 38-year-old Romanian national, was sentenced to 75 months in federal prison for organizing a group that used illegal skimmers on ATMs on Friday.

Oprea, who was most recently living at a short-term rental in Port Hueneme, was also ordered to pay $28,974 in restitution during his sentencing on Friday in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Oprea is believed to have entered the United States illegally and plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud in June of 2023 and explained he and his accomplices used skimming devices to create counterfeit cards in order to fraudulently make withdrawals from multiple victim's accounts.

“[Oprea] illegally entered our country for one purpose – to take advantage of the weaker ATM security here, which does not require cards containing computer chips,” detailed the government’s sentencing memorandum. “He pursued fraud like a full-time job, netting thousands of victims’ accounts.”

Oprea used an alias to receive sophisticated skimming devices through the mail drop he rented and maintained a master list of stolen account information which one sentencing memorandum described the criminal organization as "unusually professional" relay the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The skimming group targeted Bank of America accounts because the bank provides debit cards for California anti-poverty programs explain the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"[T]he individuals whose accounts are looted most frequently are those who depend on government payments to survive," stated a declaration by an FBI agent.

This case was investigated by the FBI with notable assistance from the Ventura County District Attorney's Office and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, this case was investigated through the Vulnerable Communities Task Force which focuses on prosecuting individuals and organizations that prey on communities that are less likely to report crimes to law enforcement and have historically has less legal recourse to address those targeting them.

Article Topic Follows: Ventura County
ATM skimming devices
bank fraud
U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of Calfornia
ventura county
Ventura County District Attorney's Office

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