A pair of Romanian men face charges in the US after netting $18 million in a vishing and smishing scheme targeting US citizens. Teodor Laurentiu Costea and Robert Codrut Dumitrescu have been extradited from Romania to the US and have been charged with wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, computer fraud and abuse, and aggravated identity theft.
The extradition comes after a federal grand jury returned a 31-count indictment against the pair. A third co-defendant in the case, Cosmin Draghici, remains in Romanian custody while awaiting extradition.
According to US Attorney Byung J. "BJay" Pak, the defendants targeted US citizens from their base in Romania, using US-based telephones to initiate phone calls to others for the purpose of fraud. The pair were engaged in vishing, which communicates a phishing message through a voice recording, and smishing, which phishes via text messages.
Costea and Dumitrescu would identify vulnerable computers in the U.S. and install interactive voice response software that would automatically interact with call recipients. They also used computers in the Atlanta area to install software that placed telephone calls and text messages to victims around the country.
The messages purported to be from a financial institution and directed victims to call a telephone number due to a problem with their respective financial account. When victims called the telephone number, they were prompted by the interactive voice response software to enter their bank account numbers, PINs, and full or partial Social Security numbers. Draghici then allegedly helped the pair turn the information into money.
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