Romania Security Threats

Data and information about security threats from Romania’s black market. Intelligence and security information collected from government agencies, news articles and other public data sources.

Criminals are using exploiting holes in wireless security to steal passwords and account details from ATM machines without the need installing skimming devices.

Criminals conduct this activity by placing a “skimming” device over the card reader of a legitimate ATM and install a pin pad over the keys. When a customer would use the ATM, the skimming machine would be able to capture the customers account data as well as the pin code. Once the machine was recovered, then the criminal would  have the information needed to breach the account.

Internet security experts state that criminals are now attempting to access debit card pin numbers and account information without installing the devices by targeting the machines through the internet.

In its 2014 Data Breach Investigation Report, Verizon studied 130 incidents of ATM skimming cases in 2013. Most of the ATM breaches took place at ATM machines and at gas pumps, where many customers use their debit cards to purchase gas. According to the report, the country with the most ATM skimming cases was Bulgaria, followed by Armenia, Romania, Brazil and the United States.

Source:  Jordan Robertson, “What Happens When the ‘Internet of Things’ Comes to ATM Skimmers,” Bloomberg, April 22, 2014.

Criminal justice departments in Romania reported that there were nearly 900 human trafficking victims identified in the country in 2013.

557 women were identified by criminal justice professionals as victims of human trafficking in 2013. 278 of the females were underage. 319 men were identified as human trafficking victims, with 22 of the males being underage.

Of the victims involved, 38 percent were cases of domestic trafficking, meaning that the victims were from Romania.

Most of the trafficked women were between the ages of 18 to 36, while the men were between 22 to 28 years old.

(Latest human trafficking statistics.)

Source:  “Nearly 900 human trafficking victims identified in 2013,” Act Media, April 4, 2014.

Between 1982 to 2012, an estimated 80 million cubic meters of wood was illegally logged in Romania, according to the Minister Delegate for Water and Forests. The illegal logging activities caused $6.8 Million (€5 Billion) in damage.

From 2007 to 2012, the rate of the illegal logging in Romania doubled, with illegal logging now occurring at twice the rate of reforestation and regeneration.

The legal timber industry in Romania is worth $5.5 Billion (€4 Billion).

Source:  AFP, “Massive logging leaves deep scars in Eastern Europe,” Google News, February 23, 2014.


The European Commission for Home Affairs released a study that found the European Union loses at least $162 Billion (€120 Billion) to corruption each year.

More than 75 percent of citizens in EU member states believe that corruption is widespread in their country. More than half also stated that they felt corruption was increasing in their country.

The top countries where citizens expected to pay bribes to officials were in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. In these countries, between 6 to 29 percent of people surveyed reported that they had either been asked for a bribe or was expected to pay a bribe within the last year. In many of the incidents, the bribes were prevalent in the healthcare industry. An example was previously reported in about the corruption in Romania’s healthcare industry.

The lowest rate of bribes were reported in the United Kingdom, where less than 1 percent reported that they either paid a bribe or were expected to.

In a survey of businesses, four out of 10 companies stated that corruption was an obstacle to doing business in the EU.

(More on the effects of corruption.)

Source:  “Corruption across EU ‘breathtaking’ – EU Commission,” BBC News, February 3, 2014.

The United States Embassy in Romania estimates that hackers in Romania steal $1 Billion a year by targeting computers located in the United States. Security investigators in the country state that 80 percent of all cyber attacks that originate in Romania target US citizens and businesses.

One common scam that targets American users is the creation of websites in order to skim financial information. The info would then be used to create ATM cards or credit cards. Another cyber crime by gangs in Romania involved running ads onf eBay and other car  selling sites. After posting ads for vehicles, the criminals would send fake invoices from PayPal or other online payment services. Money would be wired to Romania, yet no vehicle was transferred.

(Price to rent a botnet for cyber attacks.)

Police in Romania investigated around 1,000 cases of cyber crime in 2012.  The team that focuses on computer crimes has increased from a handful to 280 computer investigators in the past 7 years. The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has helped train nearly 600 investigators in Romania.

With the amount of money to be made by hacking, many Romanians are turning the cyber crimes. In the town of Ramnicu Valcea, there are 120,000 residents. Yet, police arrest around 100 people each year for cyber crime charges.

One girl from the town told the media that she made up to $4,100 for a single scam. The annual per capital income in Romania is $13,000 a year.

(More income ranges from the underground economy.)

Source:  Viad Odobescu, “U.S. data thefts turn spotlight on Romania,” USA Today, January 13, 2014.

According to media reports, doctors and other medical professionals looking to work in Romanian hospitals must pay a bribe in order to gain employment. The price of the bribe paid is determined on an unofficial sliding scale depending on the location of the hospital.

One pediatrician reported that to receive employment at a hospital in a town with 9,000 residents would cost $20,000 (€15,000). The same position in a city with a population of 105,000 would cost $27,000 (€20,000), and in a city with 250,000 residents the bribe would be $40,000 (€30,000).

(More prices of bribes around the world.)

The bribe money is split between the hospital administrators and senior doctors.

A survey of 1,000 people in Romania found that over 60 percent of respondents offered bribes to medical professionals. Many patients freely pay bribes to their doctors hoping to secure the best possible treatment. Some patients have reportedly become distressed when  a doctor refuses the bribe, thinking that their condition must be incurable.

A resident doctor working at a public hospital earns about $271 (€200) a month. A specialist at the hospital earns about $680 (€500) a month.

(Additional types of corruption worldwide.)

Source:  Elena Stancu, “Mass exodus: Why corruption in Romania’s healthcare system is forcing its doctors to work abroad,” Independent, January 2, 2014.

According to criminal justice departments across the European Union, over 60 percent of the human trafficking victims in the EU between 2008 to 2010 were of European origins.

During the three years, over 7,000 women and girls and over 2,000 men and boys from EU member states were identified as victims of human trafficking. By comparison, over 1,200 women and 94 males from Africa were identified as victims.

Officials state that most of the victims originate from Bulgaria and Romania.

(More human trafficking statistics.)

Source:  Associated Press, “In EU, most human trafficking victims are European, experts say,” Toronto Star, November 26, 2013.

Romania’s Custom Service stated in a report that about 50 percent of all “brand name” products that are available for sale in retail shops in Romania are actually counterfeit.

Counterfeit goods from China enter the Romania market through smuggling routes that pass through Moldova and Ukraine.

Some of the items seized by security services in 2013 included thousands of counterfeit Bulgari, Patek Philippe and Rolex watches, as well as counterfeit cosmetics destined for the Britain market. Romania also has the highest number of counterfeit toys seized within its border each year.

The country has also become the starting point for smugglers moving contraband across European Union members. Fake luxury goods, smuggled tobacco and illicit drugs are smuggled from Turkey through Bulgaria and into Turkey on its way to various EU markets.

Source:  Jon Coates, “Britain to be hit with a flood of fake goods as migrants swarm in,” Sunday Express, November 24, 2013.

Intelligence officials with Europol has identified 240 organized crime groups operating within Romania. These gangs are responsible for 6.7 percent of all criminal networks that are active across Europe.

Many of the criminal gangs are involved in rackets such as  payment card fraud and pickpocketing. 90 percent of the card-skimming crimes that takes place in Europe are done by gangs in Romania and Bulgaria.

The director of Europol stated that many of the gangs use low-cost airlines to travel quickly and cheaply across the EU. The gangs would fly into one city, conduct their pickpocketing crimes and card-skimming, and then quickly leave the city at the end of the day. It was previously reported that a pickpocket can make up to $6,000 a week targeting tourists.

(More illegal income from the underground economy.)

Source:  “Gangs ‘Use Budget Airlines For Crime Sprees’,” Sky News,  October 2, 2013.

An independent research organization in Romania released a study that claimed $24 Billion (€18 Billion) in government revenue was lost due to tax evasion activities. The amount lost is equal to 13.8 percent of the country’s GDP.  In terms of percentages, the amount lost in 2012 was slightly lower than the record high of 15 percent in 2011.

Evading cigarette taxes accounted for $388 Million (€291 Million) in losses. Cigarette smuggling accounted for 13.3 percent of the overall tobacco market in Romania.

Evading alcohol taxes accounted for $257 Million (€193 Million) in losses. Alcohol smuggling accounted for 45.7 percent of the overall alcohol market in Romania.

Source:  “Tax evasion in Romania stood at 13.8 percent of GDP last year,”, September 16, 2013.