May 28, 2021

Florian “The Shark” Tudor, the alleged ringleader of a prolific ATM skimming gang that siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars from bank accounts of tourists visiting Mexico over the last eight years, was arrested in Mexico City on Thursday in response to an extradition warrant from a Romanian court.

Florian Tudor, at a 2020 press conference in Mexico in which he asserted he was a legitimate businessman and not a mafia boss. Image: OCCRP.

Tudor, a native of Craiova, Romania, moved to Mexico to set up Top Life Servicios, an ATM servicing company which managed a fleet of relatively new ATMs based in Mexico branded as Intacash.

Intacash was the central focus of a threepart investigation KrebsOnSecurity published in September 2015. That series tracked the activities of a crime gang working with Intacash that was bribing and otherwise coercing ATM technicians to install sophisticated Bluetooth-based skimmers inside cash machines throughout popular tourist destinations in and around Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula — including Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Tulum.

Follow-up reporting last year by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) found Tudor and his associates compromised more than 100 ATMs across Mexico using skimmers that were able to remain in place undetected for years. The OCCRP, which dubbed Tudor’s group “The Riviera Maya Gang,” estimates the crime syndicate used cloned card data and stolen PINs to steal more than $1.2 billion from bank accounts of tourists visiting the region.

Last year, a Romanian court ordered Tudor’s capture following his conviction in absentia for attempted murder, blackmail and the creation of an organized crime network that specialized in human trafficking.

Mexican authorities have been examining bank accounts tied to Tudor and his companies, and investigators believe Tudor and his associates paid protection and hush money to various Mexican politicians and officials over the years. In February, the leader of Mexico’s Green Party stepped down after it emerged that he received funds from Tudor’s group.

This is the second time Mexican authorities have detained Tudor. In April 2019, Tudor and his deputy were arrested for illegal firearms possession. That arrest came just months after Tudor allegedly ordered the execution of a former bodyguard who was trying to help U.S. authorities bring down the group’s lucrative skimming operations.

Tudor’s arrest this week inside the premises of the Mexican Attorney General’s Office did not go smoothly, according to Mexican news outlets. El Universal reports that a brawl broke out between Tudor’s lawyers and officials at the Mexican AG’s office, and a video released by the news outlet on Twitter shows Tudor resisting arrest as he is being hauled out of the building hand and foot.

A Mexican judge will decide on Tudor’s extradition to Romania in the coming weeks.


22 thoughts on “Boss of ATM Skimming Syndicate Arrested in Mexico

  1. Mark Bennett

    Make SURE you watch the video of the perp walk. The Mexican’s have a different take on how to do this. Turn up the sound. I can’t remember watching such a video with so much pleasure.

    Reply
    1. Ceeb

      Great video. Would be interested in a translation of what is being said, and what Tudor is shouting.

      Reply
      1. Takito

        rough translation from the start…
        GuyX: Leave him, he had an arrest order…
        I’m showing you the email…
        Girl: Is better that you let him now..
        T: Leave me, leave me, leave me, wait, my bag, my bag, let me take off my bag…
        Agent: Wait, he’s not resisting anymore…
        Agent: he’s resisting, he’s resisting…
        Girl voice: continue recording, continue recording…
        T: They are lifting me up (kidnapping), they are lifting me up, record, record
        Agent: no, no, no we are police
        T: leave me, leave me son of b***, they’re lifting me..

        unintelligible talking

        on the metal detector..
        someone: shut up, shut up…
        T while going through the metal detector: they are hanging me (suffocating me), can’t breath,
        I don’t feel well, they are killing me they are killing me…

        on the floor
        T: I don’t feel well,
        Agents: calm down, calm down, shut up, relax
        T (on the floor): I don’t feel well,I don’t feel well, call an ambulance, I can’t breath,
        I can’t breath, they are killing me they are killing me… I can’t breath

        Reply
        1. Jorge

          He also claimed he was being kidnapped by cartel members. But nope, it was the police taking him in custody because an extradition was requested by the Romanian authorities.

          Reply
    2. Jon

      Agreed. I just hope the Romanians don’t show him that level of courtesy.

      Reply
      1. Daniel

        He is not that loved around here(Romania) and I’m most certain that FBI has a hand in this as the same happened many times before with romanian scammers as the romanian authorities are very receptive to FBI/US requests.

        Reply
    3. vb

      Easy way for him to know that he is not being taken by cartel – he’s unhurt. The cartel is not so gentle. Great video.

      Reply
    4. Todd

      Stupid for dragging his feet like that, he totally scuffed the soles of his Louboutins.

      Reply
    1. Mahhn

      I’d like to see him turn snitch first, then, hanging would be the least of his worries.

      Reply
  2. The Sunshine State

    Another great article to start the Memorial Day weekend

    Reply
  3. Nick Braak

    I was waiting for Part II, where they drove him to the aquarium and placed him gently in the shark tank, so he could spend more time with his family.

    Reply
  4. rich

    I salute Brian Krebs for the superb series of pieces he did on this gang, at considerable personal risk. Real journalism in action. Well done Brian.

    Reply
  5. Chris Holland

    Outstanding work Brian as usual, I bet they’re getting your Pulitzer Prize ready. You certainly deserve one several times over.

    Reply
  6. ReadandShare

    Interestingly, after several decades now of internet banking, investing and shopping… my only mishaps ever were two back-to-back ATM withdrawals made in Mexico ($499 x 2), a country I didn’t visit – although I was traveling in Central America at the time, and had my ATM card safely on my person the whole time. I did, of course use that card to make ATM withdrawals – although always at legitimate bank ATM’s, and not any storefront setup’s. I suspect an international ring with bank insiders where credentials siphoned in one country are transmitted to another (in this case, Mexico) to minimize arrests.

    Luckily, the mishap occurred near the end of my trip – one phone call to my bank basically took care of everything. My bank credited me the $998 instantly, and case closed a few weeks after that.

    Even with hacks happening continuously all around us, we only have to exercise common sense vigilance, watch and report anything out of order to our banks within a reasonable time – and we should be pretty OK.

    Reply
  7. Brendan

    Excellent work. Always a big fan of the ne’er-do-well news articles

    Reply
  8. Brian Fiori (AKA The Dean)

    Fantastic work on this, Brian. Journalism at it’s best.

    Please stay safe

    Reply
  9. Bando

    No Wonder Why they arrest Criminals all over the world.
    Just like the Long time ago when al capone was arrested.
    Before the Economic recression year 2022
    They arrest and launder all the Dirty money.
    Drug lords carders thoefs scammers always gets arrested Before Economic crash.
    So they can go
    Always we know that Economic crash is coming when all the mafia been arrested.
    Mafia is not needed anymore they are just the government cash collectors.

    Reply
  10. KFrit

    Surprised that those particular Mexican police handcuffed someone that strong and resistant from the front. I wouldn’t want to be sitting next to him the truck carrying a handgun when “Mr T” has his hand in front of him, cuffs or not.

    Reply

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