NEW YORK – Four Greek-Americans from New York are among 18 detainees accused of involvement in an international ring that robbed unsuspecting victims by stealing their debit and credit card information.
Specifically, they are Nikolaos Liberatos, 56, of Deer Park, and Theofrastos Liberatos, 36, Andrew Eliopoulos, 34, and Peter Samolis, 30, of Queens. The four Greek-Americans were arrested in New York, along with three other alleged accomplices: Kelly Karki Lam, Iuliana Mihailescu and Cristian Costea. Arrests were also made in Miami: Mircea Constantinescu, Alin Hanes Calugaru, Ionela Constantinescu, and George Serban; in Mexico’s Cabo San Lucas: Florian Claudiu Martin; and in Perugia, Italy: Raul Ionut Vidrasan.
Valentin Petrescu, Dragos Diaconu, Madlin Alexandru Anca, and Cristian Ulmanu were already held being held under other charges, with the majority of those involved being Romanians. Alex Donati is also accused.
According to an official statement from the U.S. Department of Justice, the ring operated from 2014 until September 2019. The defendants allegedly installed devices at selected ATMs that recorded debit and credit card numbers and pins. They then created counterfeit cards and managed to withdraw money or make transactions that amounted to $20 million. In fact, they did not restrict their activity to only New York ATMs, but operated in at least 17 states, setting up a ring that literally plundered people until they realized that their information had been stolen.
If the defendants are found guilty of any of the three charges they face, the sentences will range from 2 to 7 1/2 to 30 years, depending on their gravity.
“The FBI New York Cyber Crimes Task Force and our law enforcement partners have worked exhaustively to find the members of this criminal organization, and the arrests and charges are a testament to their hard work stopping these thieves from creating more havoc for anyone trying to access their hard-earned money,” said the FBI Deputy Director, William F. Sweeney Jr.
FBI, Interpol, the NYPD, the CBP and Mexican authorities were involved in the arrests of the suspects.
“I want to thank our federal partners and NYPD detectives for their coordination and tireless efforts in bringing this important case,” said Chief James P. O’Neill on behalf of the NYPD. Troy Miller, Director, Field Operations, New York, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agreed, saying “this case serves as a great example of collaborative law enforcement efforts to combat international debit card schemes. U.S. Customs and Border Protection in coordination with our partners at the FBI and the NYPD will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that criminals associated with transnational criminal organizations are brought to justice.”
The Department of Justice stresses that all defendants are presumed innocent.