Foreign National Who Fled and Was Later Extradited from the United Kingdom Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Bank and Wire Fraud in Relation to Theft of Over 2,600 Checks from Religious Institutions

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Greenbelt, Maryland – Florin Vaduva, age 31, of Dania Beach, Florida pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud.  As part of his plea agreement, Vaduva will be ordered to pay at least $1,085,151.42 in restitution.  

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Acting Postal Inspector in Charge Greg L. Torbenson of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division; Acting Special Agent in Charge Selwyn Smith of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Acting Special Agent in Charge Quenton Sallows, of the Mid-Atlantic Region, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG); Chief Marcus Jones of the Montgomery County Police Department; Chief Toni Dezomits of the Cary, North Carolina, Police Department; and Sheriff Dusty Rhoades of the Williamson County, Tennessee, Sheriff’s Office.

According to his guilty plea, from June 2018 to January 2021, Vaduva, Mateus Vaduva, Nicole Gindac, Daniel Velcu, Marian Unguru, Vali Unguru, and others conspired to steal checks from the U.S. mail intended for religious institutions and deposit the illegally obtained funds into multiple fraudulent bank accounts at various victim financial institutions.  Conspirators, including Vaduva, conducted the thefts by driving to roadside mailboxes of churches and other religious institutions and removing the mail, specifically targeting donation checks.

As part of the scheme to defraud, Vaduva and other co-conspirators fraudulently opened bank accounts at victim financial institutions under false identities.  Conspiracy members often opened fictitious bank accounts with the aid of a conspiracy member that was an employee at one of the victim financial institutions. 

Vaduva and his co-conspirators fraudulently negotiated the stolen checks at the victim financial institutions by depositing the stolen checks into bank accounts by means of ATM transactions.  Subsequently, Vanduva and his co-conspirators withdrew money from the fraudulently opened bank accounts and spent the proceeds using debit cards.

For example, from January 2020 to May 2020, Vaduva deposited or participated in the deposit of at least 49 stolen checks totaling at least $27,508.84 from churches located in Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia into five fraudulently opened bank accounts.  The total of stolen checks deposited into those accounts totaled approximately $36,660.91.  Over the course of the conspiracy, conspiracy members received approximately at least $1,085,151.42 from 2,657 stolen checks.  After becoming aware of the investigation, Vaduva fled to the United Kingdom.  He was later apprehended on September 5, 2021 and was extradited to the United States.

Vaduva faces a maximum of 30 years in prison followed by up to 5 years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud.  U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang has scheduled sentencing for August 8, 2022, at 2:00 p.m.

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, HSI, the FDIC Office of Inspector General, the Montgomery County Police Department, the Cary (North Carolina) Police Department, and the Williamson County (Tennessee) Sheriff’s Office for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Wright, who is prosecuting the case.

For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to report fraud, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/report-fraud.


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