Authorities have apprehended 48 individuals believed to be connected to Romanian organized crime syndicates in Orange County. The arrests were made as part of a large-scale operation aimed at combating the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from California’s public assistance programs.
Florin Duduianu, a notorious figure in Romania, has been apprehended by authorities, marking a significant breakthrough in law enforcement efforts. A group of individuals has been discovered installing card skimming devices at various locations such as checkout stands, ATMs, and gas pumps in the area. Their intention is to unlawfully obtain EBT card information, which is meant to assist low-income Californians.
According to the D.A.’s Office, the suspects allegedly used the unlawfully acquired money to finance their extravagant lifestyles, which involved buying high-end vehicles. A man in Cypress was apprehended by Orange County investigators after they discovered $30,000 in cash and a collection of 60 cloned EBT cards, each containing stolen card numbers and PINs.
In Brea, authorities discovered a significant amount of cash totaling $27,000 along with 42 cloned cards in the possession of a suspect. In a recent search conducted in Seal Beach, law enforcement officials made a significant discovery. Over 200 cloned cards and a substantial amount of $14,000 were found concealed in the suspect’s glove box. According to officials, the suspect was observed making multiple visits to a convenience store ATM in order to carry out unauthorized withdrawals.
The CalWORKs program offers financial assistance to families in need. Scammers and thieves frequently target it, resulting in millions of dollars lost to fraud cases each year. According to Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, these seemingly non-violent crimes have a significant impact on their victims.
“The victims include single mothers who are facing challenges in providing for their children and hardworking individuals who are in need of assistance. These individuals find themselves in a distressing situation when they reach the checkout counter with their grocery bags, only to discover that their accounts have been emptied by a thief, leaving them humiliated,” stated Spitzer.
Marina Sorensen, a victim of card hacking, shared her experience with KTLA’s Chip Yost. She recounted how her EBT card was compromised last fall, leaving her without any assistance for almost two months. “I was unaware of how to proceed, resulting in a two-month period of hunger,” she stated.
The District Attorney has made a public statement urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to take action on the CalWORKs program. The District Attorney is requesting that the state implement improved safeguards for EBT cards, such as chip technology, to enhance protection against scammers.
Meanwhile, authorities have issued helpful tips to reduce the risk of EBT information theft. It is important to inspect the card reader before completing a purchase, cover the card numbers during the transaction to prevent any hidden cameras from stealing the information, and change your PIN regularly.