Romanian Crime Ring Busted for Stealing Ebt Card Information and Living Large in Orange County


The Orange County District Attorney’s Office says that 48 people who were thought to be connected to Romanian organized crime groups have been caught as part of a large-scale scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from California’s public aid programs.

The police say that Florin Duduianu is one of the most wanted guys in Romania and was caught with other people.

Members of the group would put card skimming devices at gas pumps, ATMs, and checkout stands all over the area to steal information from EBT cards that were meant to help low-income Californians.

The suspects would then buy expensive cars and live a lavish lifestyle with the money they got illegally, according to the D.A.’s Office.

Orange County police caught a guy in Cypress and found him to have $30,000 in cash and 60 fake EBT cards with stolen card numbers and PINs.

A suspect in Brea had $27,000 in cash and 42 copied cards.

During a search in Seal Beach, authorities discovered over 200 cloned cards and $14,000 hidden in a suspect’s glove box. According to investigators, the suspect made numerous trips to a convenience shop ATM to make illicit withdrawals.

CalWORKs is a program that offers cash assistance to dependent families. It has been a common target of fraudsters and criminals, resulting in millions of dollars in fraud losses each year.

Although the crimes do not appear to be violent, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer says they leave numerous victims in their wake.

“The victims are single mothers struggling to put a roof over their children’s heads and food on the table and hardworking people who need a helping hand who find themselves standing at the checkout line with bags full of groceries only to be humiliated when they find that they have no money in their account because a thief has surreptitiously taken everything,” Spitzer said in a statement.

Marina Sorensen is one such victim, telling KTLA’s Chip Yost that her EBT card was hacked last autumn, leaving her without help for over two months.

“I didn’t know what to do, I went hungry for two months,” she told me.

The District Attorney has publicly asked for improvements to the CalWORKs program, requesting that Gov. Gavin Newsom force the state to establish greater protection for EBT cards, including chip technology that protects against fraudsters.

Meanwhile, officials have issued advice on how to reduce the danger of having your EBT card information stolen. This includes verifying the card reader before making a purchase, covering the card numbers during the transaction to prevent any hidden cameras from capturing the information, and changing your PIN on a frequent basis.

If you believe you were a victim of EBT theft, contact 800-281-9799.

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