5 charged for using ATM skimmer

ETTERS, Pa. (WHTM) – Newberry Township police say they’ve filed charges against five people who placed a skimming device on an ATM and used stolen card information for thefts in York and Cumberland counties.

The five suspects, all believed to be Romanian nationals without U.S. citizenship, are responsible for thefts that total more than $17,000 in Newberry Township alone, police said Wednesday.

According to a criminal complaint, a skimmer was placed on an ATM at 1090 Old Trail Road in Etters on Jan. 22, Jan. 25, and Jan. 26 and 304 transactions were made on those dates. Surveillance video shows a woman placing a skimmer on the ATM and another woman removing the device.

Surveillance video also recorded two men using cloned debit and credit cards at various local businesses.

Benone Lapadat and Petrica Velcu (Carroll County Sheriff’s Office)

Two of the suspects – Benone Lapadat, 39, and Petrica Velcu, 26, both of Houston, Texas – were arrested Monday in Carroll County, Maryland. The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office said the two were traveling in a van that had a headlight out, and a search turned up a skimming device along with small amounts of suspected cocaine and marijuana.

A 14-year-old boy traveling with the pair was turned over to child protective services when his guardians could not be found.

After Ionela Vaduva, 29, and Danusta Trifu, 48, both of Lanham, Maryland, visited Lapadat and Velcu at the Carroll County Detention Center on Tuesday, investigators said they compared the women’s identification photos to surveillance videos from the ATM in Etters. Police said they identified Trifu as the woman who installed the skimmers and Vaduva as the woman who removed the devices.

Lapadat, Velcu, and Trifu’s 20-year-old son, Marion Trifu, are accused of using cloned bank cards at various businesses.

Top, from left: Ionela Vaduva, Danusta Trifu, and Marion Trifu. Bottom: Surveillance photos (submitted)

All will be charged with 12 felony counts including theft, receiving stolen property, access device fraud, unlawful use of computers, computer trespass, computer theft, and criminal conspiracy, police said.

Skimmers are placed over an ATM card reader to illegally gather data from the card’s magnetic strip. Criminals then use the card data to make purchases and withdrawals.

Three people were charged in Dover last week after police said the group was in possession of a skimming device and blank cards.

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