A 31-year-old Romanian man—a tech-savvy criminal— was sentenced to seven years imprisonment with a non-parole period of three and a half years for extracting cash from foreign bank accounts using cloned ATM cards and then arranging for $636,775AUD to be sent overseas.
Between February and April 2012, Alexandru Stroia loaded blank gift cards with bank account data and information for foreign bank accounts—fraudulently obtained by others overseas. He used the cloned cards to withdraw cash from ATMs in south east Queensland from the compromised bank accounts.
Stroia arranged for the cash to be remitted overseas to his criminal associates through 118 Western Union money transfers that were deliberately structured to avoid reporting thresholds of $10,000.
He recruited and paid two others to assist—one of whom recruited a further twenty runners to perform the transfers. Of the twenty people recruited, sixteen were subsequently prosecuted for dealing with proceeds of crime.
On the day of his arrest, Stroia was observed accessing several ATMs to withdraw cash. On arrest, he was found in possession of a large number of cloned gift cards and $66,945AUD in cash.
On 7 June 2011, Stroia was sentenced for a less serious but similar money laundering crime, to 3 years imprisonment, to be released on recognisance after serving 18 months. Soon after his release from prison on the first occasion, he began offending again—whilst subject to a condition to be of good behaviour.
The case was referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) by the Queensland Police Service.
CDPP Deputy Director, David Adsett said, ‘Advances in technology and the high rate of crimes relating to non-transactional money transfers is an issue. Though as criminals increase the sophisticated nature of offending, the authorities are keeping pace.
‘While a plea of guilty was entered, our prosecutors argued the crimes and the fact that Stroia had not just offended, but re-offended justified a lengthy gaol term’, added Adsett.
In sentencing Stroia, Judge Martin SC said ‘Plainly the first sentence of imprisonment was no deterrent to you at all. Rather your criminality escalated.’ He went on to explain that unlike the situation in 2011, the defendant would be sentenced as the principal organiser in Australia in respect of the current enterprise.
CDPP Media Contact: email@example.com or 02 6206 5708
Alexandru Stroia was convicted and sentenced on 27 February 2015 in relation to:
- One count of dealing in the proceeds of crime contrary to section 400.4(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).