What is known about the Romanian mafia operating in Mexico with cloning cards

Nearly six years ago, in September 2015, the British newspaper daily Mail The first indications revealed the existence of a foreign criminal group dedicated to the cloning of cards through ATMs, in the tourist areas of Quintana Roo.

The investigation, conducted by cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs, indicates that at least 19 ATMs located in Riviera Maya have been interfered with by security services. Bluetooth That allowed bank details to be stolen.

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According to the article, the stolen information was sold in order to clone cards and make purchases online. With this system, the criminals would have earned up to $ 5 million a month.

The devices placed can store data of up to 32,000 people and were found in ATMs in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Cozumel, the most visited places in Quintana Roo.

in time, daily Mail This criminal group has been dubbed “the Russian Mafia” due to the alleged origin of the criminals.

After this post, Mexican authorities began an investigation into the case, and discovered it was a Romanian criminal network.

In June 2020, Mexicanos Contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad, together with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and Quinto Element Lab, presented an investigation revealing that the criminal organization, originally from Romania, had already arrived in Mexico since then. March 2014 and spread to other states such as Jalisco and Guanajuato.

From then until mid-2019, according to MCCI investigations, the criminal group stole about $ 1.2 billion through various ATMs.

According to MCCI, in 2014, the Romanian gang established itself in Mexico as a company called Top Life Servicios and signed a contract with Multiva Bank to install ATMs in various tourist sites. Through those ATMs they stole data for years.

The cloned cards were used to withdraw money in other countries. In addition to Mexico, the band members have worked from countries such as Indonesia, India, Barbados, Paraguay, Japan and Taiwan.

International search

As a gang based in different countries and influencing domestic and international tourists, the investigation into the case was conducted by the Mexico Attorney General’s Office and agencies such as the FBI in the United States.

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In 2019, Mexican authorities shut down all ATMs operated by the criminal group and began an investigation against Romanian businessman Florian Tudor, in which the criminal gang is allegedly linked.

Tudor was arrested in mid-2019 in Quintana Roo and released hours later when he could not find the sustenance to carry him.

Likewise, the Romanian authorities managed to arrest some members of the criminal group. One of them told his country’s prosecutor’s office that they control about 10 ATMs and that each one of them copies about 1,000 cards per month.

We took around $ 200 off each card. $ 20 million is withdrawn each month, “said the statement, which MCCI has access to.

For his part, Florian Tudor businessman sent a letter to Political animal In May 2020, he denied having any connection with Romanian criminals and said that he had been wanted for years to get involved in the Romanian mafia.

“This stigma has distorted my hearing and discrimination against me, from 2015 until now, through various media, and through it I have been the target of various blackmailers until now (…) that the Romanian mafia is the brotherhood of Marco, whom I previously denounced,” it read The message received by this medium.

Even, Theodore FGR reported numerous violations and abuses by federal agents while searching his home as part of the investigation.

The Marco brothers, to whom Theodore refers, are old acquaintances of hers who, over time, became his competitors. In the MCCI investigation, it was reported that one of them, Konstantin Marco, was killed in 2018 in front of Tudor’s house by one of his bodyguards, who allegedly did so in a legitimate defense.

At the time, the account that Attorney General Quintana Roo gave to local media was that Marco was attacked with gunshots for trying to kidnap Tudor’s cousin, as well as blackmailing businessmen.

At the moment, the FGR has not provided further information on the investigation of Florián Tudor.

Romanians are locked up and their accounts frozen

In early February, the issue of the Romanian mafia regained its importance after the arrest of dozens of Romanian citizens, who they said were tourists, at Cancun International Airport.

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Mexican authorities confiscated their documents and said they carried out the measure because people of Romanian origin were unable to verify the reasons for their trip.

The National Institute for Migration noted that after reviewing the documents, they discovered that some people had a travel alert.

Three days later, the Mexican authorities allowed 136 Romanian tourists to enter our country, while 4 tourists were repatriated.

Eduardo Albor, Honorary Consul of Romania to Quintana Roo, thanked the intervention of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Governor of Quintana Roo, Carlos Joaquín Gonzales, for the free passage of Romanian citizens.

Meanwhile, the Romanian Chargé d’Affairs in Mexico and Central America, Yunoy Falco, went to Cancun airport to oversee respect for the rights of his citizens.

For their part, the Mexican authorities have not released any information about the reason for the arrest of the citizens and the review of their documents.

The day after the Romanian tourists were released, the head of the Finance Ministry’s Financial Intelligence Unit, Santiago Nieto, spoke about the Romanian mafia case.

According to the official, under an agreement with the Federal Government’s National Security Council of Ministers, the agency under his responsibility withheld the accounts of 79 Mexican and Romanian individuals and legal entities, “who were dedicated to credit and debit card duplication in tourist destinations.”

In the days that followed, the names of some of the people whose accounts were blocked became known. Among them were businessmen and politicians, according to a Treasury document he had access to Reshape.

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Some of the politicians, officials and businessmen who appeared on the UIF list are: José de la Peña Ruíz de Chávez, Q. Roo’s local deputy for the Green Party. Jose Luis Jonathan Young, former Secretary of Public Security, Benito Juarez Municipality; Jonathan Medina Nava, former state attorney general, and Adrian Nikolai Cosmin, partner of businessman Florian Tudor.

After knowing this information, the State Council of the PVEM in Quintana Roo announced the dismissal of José de la Peña Ruíz de Chávez, who was also the Coordinator of the Green Party seat and chair of the Finance Committee of the State Congress.

Just on Thursday, Jose de la Peña Ruiz de Chávez reported that he was in Mexico City in response to a notification from the Financial Intelligence Unit.

“Contrary to what many people might think, I attend the investigation in an official and front-line manner (…) an investigation that I am telling you with my head raised; I do not have, nor were it mine, nor would I have a relationship, friendship or work with alleged criminal groups and individuals.”

Another name that has been circulated as one of the politicians whose accounts have been blocked is that of René Pecrano, the current candidate for the position of Federal MP for Morena, but this information was denied by him and by the president of the International Integration Federation, Santiago Nieto. Umania

With repair information (subscription required), Mexicans against corruption and impunity s Because of this from Quintana Roo.

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