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March 4, 2024
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International Justice International News

When Romania Exports Crime: Romanian Mob Stole Money from Social Cards in California

Romania’s exports are not only products and services. Unfortunately, Romanian criminals operate abroad and steal Western citizens’ money from pockets or cards.

A Romanian gang led by a member of one of the infamous Romanian clan members has been caught red-handed in the US. The Orange County authorities, in collaboration with the FBI, have been investigating the modus operandi of the Romanian gang that was stealing money from social cards in California.

Florin Duduianu, 39, whose last known residence was in Mission Viejo, was found guilty of two counts of aggravated identity theft, the US Department of Justice announced.

According to evidence presented at trial, in August 2023, law enforcement was operating to combat Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) fraud at various banks and ATMs in Placentia. Police saw Duduianu, accompanied by a passenger, drive up to a Wells Fargo ATM and make multiple withdrawals on different cards. Based on this information, officers pulled Duduianu over. Duduianu lied to the officers, telling them he was depositing, not withdrawing, money from the ATM.

While conducting the body search of Duduianu’s passenger, officers found four Visa gift cards, three Wells Fargo ATM receipts, and $1,850 in cash. The Visa gift cards were encoded with EBT card numbers. Those numbers were run through an EBT database, showing that they belonged to four people. Based on the Wells Fargo receipts, Duduianu used two cards to make three withdrawals totalling $1,850 from the ATM.

While searching Duduianu’s cellphone, law enforcement found dozens of photos and videos of ATM skimming and tools and techniques for skimming EBT information. Law enforcement also found photos of large sums of cash and hundreds of EBT numbers from multiple states. In the chat history of Duduianu’s phone, the government found an article about EBT fraud that was sent from his phone to four other phone numbers.

On another smartphone law enforcement recovered during Duduianu’s arrest, law enforcement found additional videos of ATM skimming. Phone records and EBT records showed that this phone was used to check the balance of the EBT accounts of the victims in this case, five days before Duduianu withdrew $1,850 from those same accounts.

Previously, in this case, Duduianu pleaded guilty on January 5 to three counts of bank fraud and unlawful use of unauthorized access devices.

Judge Holcomb scheduled a March 29 sentencing hearing. At that time, Duduianu will face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for each bank fraud count, up to 20 years in federal prison for the unauthorized access devices count, and a mandatory two-year sentence consecutive to his underlying sentence for each aggravated identity theft count.

This case appeared when Romanian politicians promised Romania would enter the Visa Waiver program in 2025. However, many Romanian nationals are refused entry to the US, making the refusal rate way above 3%, the necessary percentage for Romania to enter the famous visa-free entry program.

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