ATLANTA (AP) — Three men who hacked U.S. computers from Romania have been sentenced to prison for a fraud scheme totaling more than $21 million, federal prosecutors in Georgia said Tuesday. Sentences ranged from four years and three months to eight years and two months for the men, who all are from Ploiesti (ploy-ESH-tee), Romania, U.S. Attorney Byung J. "BJay" Pak of Atlanta said in a news release.
"We are warning cyber-criminals no matter where they reside, that this office and our law-enforcement partners are committed to finding you, extraditing you to this district, and prosecuting you," Pak said.
A restitution hearing is scheduled August 30 for Teodor Laurentiu Costea, 43, Robert Codrut Dumitrescu, 41, and Cosmin Draghici, 30. They were extradited last year and all pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of wire fraud conspiracy, computer fraud and abuse, and aggravated identity theft, according to prosecutors' statement.
It said they hacked computer servers, installing bulk emailing and interactive voice response software that tricked people into thinking they were dealing with their own banks so they would provide information such as account numbers, PINs and Social Security numbers.
Prosecutors say the compromised servers made thousands of calls and text messages to victims across the U.S. in variants of phishing called "vishing" for voice calls and "smishing" for texts. Some of the servers and some of the victims were in the Northern District of Georgia.
Prosecutors said that when they were arrested in Romania, Costea possessed 36,050 fraudulently obtained financial account numbers, Draghici had 3,465 and Dumitrescu had 3,278. Those numbers alone put the losses at more than $21 million, the statement said.
Dumitrescu was sentenced Tuesday to seven years, three months in prison. Costea was sentenced June 11 to eight years and two months, and Draghici, was sentenced on June 12 to four years and three months in prison. Each sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release.
"The FBI won't let geographic boundaries stop us from pursuing and prosecuting those persons who cause tremendous financial pain to U.S. citizens," said Chris Hacker, special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta. "These three criminals felt like they were safe in Romania hiding behind their computers. Hopefully their sentences send a message to anyone who thinks they can prey on our citizens from afar and get away with it."