Fourth person sentenced for credit card fraud

A fourth person has been sentenced in connection with a scheme to defraud local retail banks by dishonestly withdrawing cash from ATM machines with the use of cloned credit cards.

Florin Roata, a Romanian citizen who came to Cayman as a visitor in December 2014, was sentenced to three years for his role in the conspiracy.

Justice Michael Mettyear handed down the term of three years last week, the same sentence he gave Roland Pop and Ianacu Vlismas in May after all three men pleaded guilty.

Roata’s sentencing had been adjourned because there was a question about whether he had previous convictions in another jurisdiction.

Defense attorney Amelia Fosuhene said she had a document that seemed to suggest Roata had received a fine or 14 days’ imprisonment and it appeared there was a record. However, Roata had told her it was not a conviction because he never went to court and never entered a plea, and that it was dealt with administratively.

Justice Mettyear said his problem was that he hadn’t believed Roata when he gave evidence under oath in the trial of his fiancée, so he wasn’t going to accept his word now. Since he does not preside in Cayman on a permanent basis, he decided he would impose the term of three years and if another court were satisfied that Roata did not have a previous conviction, three months should come off that sentence.

Details of the charge of conspiracy to defraud were that Pop, Vlismas and Roata conspired with persons unknown, between Dec. 10 and Dec. 17, to defraud local retail banks by dishonestly withdrawing cash from ATM machines with the use of cloned credit cards.

Police recovered US$101,698 from the room of Pop and Vlismas on Dec. 17. Approximately US$19,511 was recovered from the room Roata shared with his fiancee Mariana Oprinoiu.

The three men had admitted their roles in the conspiracy, but she had pleaded not guilty.

During her trial, Roata gave evidence that Oprinoiu did not know anything about what the men were doing. He said he was the one who hid money in her jeans and memory cards in her bra. Police found 23 gift cards, 20 of which had magnetic strips with genuine credit card information imported into them; Roata said he had placed these cards in Oprinoiu’s bag of underwear.

Justice Mettyear had rejected this evidence. “It is difficult to think of a worse place to hide things from a woman than her own jeans, her bra and a mesh bag holding her used underwear,” he commented. He said the items were placed where they would be less likely to be observed by someone tidying the room. He concluded that Oprinoiu either put the items where they were found or else knew that Roata put them there and was content with the situation.

He found her not guilty of the conspiracy, but guilty of money laundering – possession of approximately US$19,511 that was criminal property – and sentenced her to 15 months’ imprisonment.

Roata’s sentence for money laundering was 10 months, to be served concurrently. The judge also recommended him for deportation after he completes his sentence.