Two men authorities tied to a phishing scheme pleaded not guilty to charges of identity theft and bank fraud after being extradited to the United States. The phishing scheme targeted customers of well-known financial institutions, including Capital One and Citibank.
authorities have extradited two Romanian men to the United States to face charges of
operating a phishing scheme targeting customers of several financial
at the FBI announced Sept. 29 that Petru Bogdan Belbita, 25, of
Romania, and Cornel Ionut Tonita, 28, of
Romania, have been brought to the
face charges of conspiracy and aggravated identity theft. Both men pleaded not
guilty to the charges.
investigators, the duo were snared as part of an investigation into a complaint
concerning a fraudulent e-mail message made to appear as if it originated from
Connecticut-based People's Bank. The e-mail directed victims to a computer
that had been compromised and used
to host a counterfeit People's Bank Internet site. During the investigation, it
was determined that the defendants had allegedly engaged in similar phishing
schemes against many other financial institutions and companies, including
Citibank, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Comerica Bank, Wells Fargo
& Co., eBay and PayPal, authorities said.
The two men were
indicted by a federal grand jury in
Conn., in January 2007. Five other
Romanian citizens were charged in the indictment as well. Belbita was arrested
in Canada on Jan.
and brought to the
25. He appeared before a federal judge in
Sept. 29 and
pleaded not guilty. Tonita was arrested in
July and extradited to the
4. He pleaded not guilty six days later.
Both men face one charge
of conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with access devices, one charge of
conspiracy to commit bank fraud and an additional charge of aggravated identity
theft. The conspiracy to commit bank fraud charge is the most serious and
carries a maximum term of 30 years in prison.