Public Safety

Romanian man sentenced for stealing money from ATMs with counterfeit debit cards

Thefts occurred in Cedar Rapids area in 2019

Romica Martuica
Romica Martuica

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Romanian man was sentenced Tuesday to more than three years in federal prison for using 52 counterfeit magnetic strip cards to steal money from 20 bank customers in the Cedar Rapids area through ATMs last year.

Romica Martuica, 21, previously pleaded guilty — through a French interpreter — in U.S. District Court to illegal transactions with an access device and aggravated identity theft. He originally was charged with 10 related counts.

Martuica and David Iancu, also charged in the case, went to various bank ATMs on Feb. 16, 2019, inserting 52 magnetic strip cards, in an attempt to withdraw about $25,195, a plea agreement showed. They took about $8,685 because some of the cards didn’t work.

Martuica made about 24 withdrawals and about 47 attempted withdrawals with magnetic cards between 5:09 and 6:24 p.m. that day, according to the plea. The magnetic cards contained the numbers of actual accounts.

The plea agreement detailed four withdrawals to show the aggravated identity theft charges.

Each withdrawal — $200, $400, $400 and $402.50 — was from a different victim.

When police stopped the two men, Martuica gave officers a Romanian identification card with the name “Marco Gorgescu,” according to the plea.

He consented to the search of his Mercedes, and officers recovered about 54 ATM receipts, four credit cards and six gift cards.

They also found a fake Texas identification card for Martuica’s sister, Roxana Martuica, 17 at the time, who concealed evidence from law enforcement.

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Roxana Martuica hid a bag from her brother’s car in a police vehicle after they were arrested, according to a video recording. Officers found it later. It contained $13,200 in cash, five withdrawal receipts and 92 magnetic strip cards.

Roxana Martuica was charged in Linn County District Court, but charges were dismissed in September because she was being deported to Romania.

After obtaining a search warrant, authorities also found $63 in cash, six more withdrawal receipts and a UPS receipt with tracking number, according to the plea.

A search warrant was obtained for the UPS package, which contained materials used to skim credit card information, including circuit boards, batteries, cameras and memory cards.

U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams sentenced Martuica to 42 months in prison and ordered him to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term and pay victim restitution of $8,685.

As part of the plea, he forfeited the seized $13,200 and any other proceeds from the crime.

Court documents showed Martuica entered the United States illegally in 2016, so he may face deportation after serving his sentence.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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