Trio face charge in alleged Walmart scam | News, Sports, Jobs | #phishing | #scams

Three Elmhurst, New York, residents are in prison after being accused in a “cash cash scam” Saturday.

Mihai Constantin, 28, Pardelean Rostas, 27, and Andrei Iosif, 31, face felony theft by deception charges related to the alleged scam that began at two Walmarts in State College, continued to the Freedom Township location and the Ebensburg Walmart and ended with their arrests at the Richland Township store.

According to court documents, Freedom Township police responded to the Walmart in Freedom Township about 2:55 p.m. after an asset protection employee said a man in a gray/off-white graphic T-shirt attempted to complete a fraudulent transaction. The man was later identified as Mihai Constantin by Cambria Township police, who were investigating a similar scam in its jurisdiction.

Police said Constantin approached the customer service desk demanding a refund for a transaction that did not properly go through. He then handed the employee a slip of paper with a bar code indicating that he was to receive the funds. The employee scanned the code, initiated the transaction and prepared to pull $2,500 from the drawer. The employee’s drawer didn’t contain enough cash and a second employee came to assist and provide the additional funds. Constantin then said he wanted to complete an electronic transaction with two separate transactions to go to the same person. The cash was pulled out and counted on the counter, but at that time, the second employee suspected a scam and stopped the transaction, police reported. Constantin then left the store.

Police reviewed video footage from the store and found that Constantin arrived at the store with Andrei Iosif and Pardelean Rostas, though Constantin was the only one who attempted the transaction. Iosif remained in the vehicle and Rostas entered the store to purchase food items and left, police reported.

During the Freedom Township investigation, it was discovered the three men tried the same scam Saturday morning in State College, police reported. Court documents allege that Constantin attempted the scam at the Atherton Street Walmart, and Constantin and Iosif attempted the scam at the Benner Pike location. The Ebensburg location was attempted by Iosif and Constantin, police said, and the trio were stopped and detained about 5:30 p.m. at the Richland location before they could attempt the scam there.

Police reported that all transactions were stopped, with the exception of the Ebensburg location, where the trio are accused of taking $500.

With the three rotating positions and operating in tandem, Cambria Township police also plan on filing charges against Iosif and Rostas and took Constantin to be arraigned, police reported.

In talking with police, Iosif said he was trying to send money to his wife, though Freedom Township police said that was unlikely as Constantin was the one attempting to make the transaction.

Constantin was arraigned Monday afternoon before Magisterial District Judge Andrew L. Blattenberger. Unable to post $250,000 bail, he was remanded to the Blair County Prison.

Iosif was arraigned Sunday afternoon before Magisterial District Judge Paula M. Aigner, and unable to post $250,000 bail, he was remanded to the Blair County Prison.

Rostas was arraigned Sunday afternoon before Blattenberger. Unable to post $250,000 bail, he was also remanded to the Blair County Prison.

All three face preliminary hearings Aug. 4 before Blattenberger.

Court records also show Constantin was arraigned Sunday morning before Magisterial District Judge John W. Barron in Cambria County on charges of retail theft, receiving stolen property and theft by deception. Bail was set at 10% of $40,000 after a hearing on Monday. Bail was posted Monday, according to court documents.

His preliminary hearing in Cambria County is set for Aug. 2 before Barron.

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