Romanian transients targeting Central Florida for fraudulent credit card crimes

3 people from Romania arrested in by 3 different agencies since February

By Nadeen Yanes - Reporter

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - They have no address and in some cases no name. Three Romanian men were arrested in three different cases for fraudulent credit card crimes in Central Florida over the last few months.

"They've been doing this for a while and they get away with thousands and thousands in cash," Maj. Jacob Ruiz, with Osceola County Sheriff's Department.

A Romanian man, only know as John Doe 3030, was caught with 10 fake credit cards withdrawing thousands of dollars of cash at an ATM inside a Kissimmee Citgo, detectives said.

"They observed him retrieve money from the ATM and noticed the ATM machine was not dispensing the card back," Ruiz said. "When the subject turned around he saw deputies there and said 'Oh no.'"

Ruiz said in some cases when an ATM knows a card is fake, it will hold the card so the person can't get it back. He also said John Doe 3030 was with three other suspects who took off.

"Among us, they look like tourists. Most of the times they do not live here. They will rent a hotel somewhere and that's where they will stay for a day or two," Ruiz said. "They may come to Central Florida for a week or so and then have a plan to move somewhere else in the country."

John Doe 3030 isn't the only suspect arrested here in Central Florida. On May 29, Romanian citizen Aurelian Dragut was arrested in Orange County after detectives say on six different occasions he used dozens of fake credit cards to withdraw nearly $5,000 in cash from the McCoy Federal Credit Union off McCoy Road.

In February, Orlando police had a similar case. Romanian suspect Narcis-Florin Cita was arrested for body slamming an officer after that officer saw him try to withdraw a substantial amount of money from a Walmart ATM on South Goldenrod Road.

In this case, the United States Secret Service is investigating. They wouldn't confirm why but Cita's arrest came just days after the Secret Service put out this warning about a new ATM scam hitting the U.S. called ATM "jackpotting."

According to the memo issued Jan. 26, criminals will install malicious hardware and/or software onto an ATM that will allow them to control the machine and force it to dispense "huge volumes of cash on demand." 

The Secret Service would not confirm if that is what Cita is being investigated for but did say they have not seen a case of ATM "jackpotting" in Central Florida yet.

Ruiz wouldn't be surprised, with technology always evolving, if it hits us soon.

"Technology is great, but it's also hurting us because it provides these criminals to steal money easily through electronic transactions," Ruiz said. "So we really need our community to be aware of the fraud that occurs."

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