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The man caught by Placer County Sheriff’s detectives in a large-scale ATM card-skimming case has pleaded guilty in Federal Court.
United States Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced that Claudiu Hotea, 34, of Orange County, pleaded guilty to credit card fraud before U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England, Jr.

Detective Jim Hudson arrested Hotea on January 26, 2006, at the Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln as Hotea used different cards to make multiple, back-to-back withdrawals from an ATM. Prior to the arrest, Hudson led an intensive investigation that determined Hotea had skimmed ATM card data from customers who had used their cards at local Arco/AM-PM stations. Hotea then re-encoded gift cards to function as ATM cards.

‘The success of this case is due to the cooperation of a wide variety of agencies all working together,’ said Sheriff Ed Bonner. ‘That includes Thunder Valley security, bank investigators, Arco corporate security, Sheriff’s investigators, the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott.’

The total attempted ATM withdrawals amounted to $576,650 and the total successful withdrawals $185,896.

Hotea is scheduled for sentencing June 14, 2007, in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.