Two Romanians suspected in phishing scheme extradited to U.S.

Prosecutors say phishing operation targeted multiple financial institutions

Two Romanians suspected of operating a phishing scheme against several financial institutions have been extradited to the U.S., federal prosecutors announced this week.

Petru Bogdan Belbita, 25, and Cornel Ionut Tonita, 28, were extradited last month to face charges related to the scheme, which targeted People's Bank, Citibank, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Comerica Bank, Wells Fargo & Co., eBay and PayPal. They were indicted with five other Romanians by a federal grand jury in New Haven, Conn., more than two years ago.

Prosecutors said they began investigating the case after receiving a complaint of a phishing email that appeared to come from Connecticut-based People's Bank. The bogus email directed recipients to a compromised computer in Minnesota hosting a fake People's Bank website. The investigation connected the Romanian defendants to similar phishing schemes against the other companies.

Belbita was arrested on an Interpol warrant in Montreal in January and extradited to the U.S. on Sept. 25. Tonita was arrested at a sea border crossing in Croatia and extradited on Sept. 4. Both have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with access devices. The charges carry a maximum of 37 years in prison and more than $1 million in fines.

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