Romanian National Pleads Guilty to Possessing Unauthorized Credit Card Numbers, Identity Theft
A 22-year-old Romanian national pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to possessing unauthorized credit card numbers in connection with an Internet “phishing” scheme to collect personal information of individuals and sell it.
On Oct. 6 in Minneapolis, Sergiu Daniel Popa pleaded guilty to one count of possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices and one count of aggravated identity theft. He was indicted on June 19, 2007, and entered his plea before United States District Court Judge John Tunheim. Popa was extradited to the U.S. from Spain in June.
According to Popa’s plea agreement, from June 2000 through February 2007 Popa resided in New York and Michigan, and maintained two e-mail accounts. Popa used the accounts to harvest, via the phishing scheme, personal identification and financial information, such as names, addresses, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, Social Security account numbers, and personal identification numbers of thousands of individuals, including some Minnesota residents.
In Popa’s scheme, he created fraudulent e-mails and fraudulent websites to appear as if they were authorized by legitimate entities. As the defendant intended, pursuant to his scheme, those victims who received his e-mails and went to his websites were tricked into providing their personal identification and financial information, believing that a legitimate institution had requested the information.