Romanian citizen sentenced to five years in phishing scheme

Cristian Busca was part of a Romania-based group that created fraudulent payment cards to loot accounts

A 28-year-old Romanian man was sentenced on Tuesday to five years in prison for his role in a phishing scheme, as part of a seven-year investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Cristian Busca, who was sentenced in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Connecticut, pleaded guilty last November to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, the DOJ said in a news release. He was extradited to the U.S. in December 2011.

Prosecutors alleged that Busca possessed more than 10,000 stolen debit or credit card numbers in his email accounts. Phishing is a type of scam in which victims are tricked into revealing their financial data by visiting fraudulent websites. They are lured to those websites through legitimate-looking emails purportedly from financial institutions.

The DOJ said the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in New Haven was notified after a person received a suspicious email that supposedly came from People's Bank, a financial institution in Connecticut. Other targeted companies included Citibank, Wells Fargo and PayPal.

Busca was part of a group based in Craiova, Romania, that amassed victims' payment card details, PINs and Social Security numbers. They used the information to make fraudulent withdrawals from people's accounts by creating counterfeit payment cards and taking out lines of credit.

The DOJ has brought charges against 19 Romanians since starting its investigation seven years ago. The department is still seeking the arrests of nine defendants.

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