Romanian men jailed after card-skimming ring steals $75,000 from Kiwis

Source: 1News

Two Romanian men have been jailed today after a card-skimming ring that stole more than $75,000 from New Zealanders.

Ionut Alexandru Oprescu, 31, and Victor Ionut Ghenadi, 36, were arrested after a tip-off from a courier driver in January.

Two packages, which had been declared as a "musical box" and a "laptop without hard disk" from London, were seized during the Customs' investigation after they were found to be hiding card-skimming equipment.

When their Hobson St apartment was raided in January, Oprescu "was caught trying to hide items in the roof cavity", Customs said today.

"A large number of parts, tools and equipment used to make card skimming devices, a completed and functional skimming device, blank cards, and a card writer machine were also found."

As well as the equipment, 122 bank card numbers were discovered, with $75,380 stolen from their victims.

Cards were skimmed at Wilson Parking machines as well as prepay stations at fuel pumps.

Customs says the men are believed to have ties with international drug syndicates.

"These men travelled to New Zealand with the sole purpose of committing fraud, and they had no qualms about stealing funds from hard-working New Zealanders," Customs investigations manager Bruce Berry said.

"The two packages that hid the skimming devices were actually addressed to the homes of innocent occupiers, which is a common method used by criminals for smuggling illegal commodities such as drugs, tobacco and skimming equipment."

Today, Oprescu was sentenced to two years, five months in jail, while Ghenadi was given a sentence of three years in prison.

Ghenadi was convicted for money laundering, while both men were also convicted on charges of importing devices for a dishonest purpose, altering documents with intent to obtain by deception, manufacturing goods with intent to facilitate a crime involving dishonesty, and dishonestly using a document.