A 31-year-old Romanian woman faces a 49-count felony indictment for her role in a group of international criminals’ plan to steal credit card information and money from southwest Missouri residents. Loredana Baceanu is currently behind bars in the Greene County Jail, now facing federal charges.
Locally, the Christian County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged Baceanu, 31, with the Class B felony of trafficking in stolen identifies, and 48 counts of Class D felony forgery. Baceanu is being held in jail without bond.
She was charged in federal court with possessing re-encoded gift cards with intent to commit fraud.
Baceanu was arrested in Nixa.
Employees of a Southern Bank branch on West Mount Vernon Street contacted police to report “several fraudulent charges made at their ITM and ATMs.” Police collected several receipts that a bank employee found near the interactive teller machine, and also reviewed video footage taken from security cameras at the bank.
While a Nixa police officer was interviewing the bank employee, another employee “ran to the room and stated the suspect was at (the) back of the bank currently at the ATM.”
The police officer stopped the suspect’s vehicle as it was leaving the bank. The driver presented an “international driver’s license.” Police also questioned a female passenger, who is identified in the report as Baceanu.
Police seized a total of 49 prepaid Visa and American Express cards, which were found in a hidden pocket in Baceanu’s clothing. Police also found $880 cash, a small micro data card in an adapter and a piece of identification belonging to the car’s driver.
“In the course of my investigation, each card was scanned using a scan tool provided by the United States Secret Service. I observed each card had a different number on the magnetic strip along with another code. The card number of the face of each card was different than the number on the magnetic strip,” a Nixa police officer wrote in the report.
Springfield police told police in Nixa they had been working “several cases involving a group of Romanian nationals who are targeting ATMs using card skimmers and stealing information.”
Nixa police also determined that the 18-year-old male driver of the car at the bank, Lorenzo Radulean, had given them a false piece of identification with a false name.
Welsh case from 2012
Multiple reports from British media outlets in September and October of 2012 connect Baceanu to a string of burglaries in Wales.
Baceanu was one of eight members of a gang of Romanians who committed what the judge at Merthyr Crown Court called "a conspiracy of sophistication and determination,” according to the BBC. The group carried out an estimated 30 burglaries in five months, usually targeting “corner shops.”
In Cardiff, Carmarthenshire and Newport, Wales, the gang took jewelry worth approximately £128,000 and about £41,000 in cash, along with laptops, mobile phones and sat nav equipment. The total theft reached more than £170,000, or about $221,85.69 in U.S. dollars according to current exchange rates.
Baceanu was sentenced to two years in prison.