Police have arrested a Romanian for his part in a ‘rewards card’ scheme where he withdrew money from hacked accounts of foreigners.
32-year-old Gheorghe Adelin Stretcu is said to belong to a crime syndicate that uses convenience store reward cards to steal money from hacked bank accounts of foreigners.
Stretcu is not alone and is said to have an entire group of workers assisting him in his crime spree.
Police say Stretcu arrived in the Philippines on September 17 – so far he has taken millions of pesos from ATM transactions.
“He admitted they selected the Philippines because it reportedly has one of the weakest ATM security features in the world,” said police.
Cebu police caught Stretcu inside a mall in Cebu City on Sunday – they seized a total of 90 rewards cards from the suspect.
Officials are saying the rewards cards can be bought for 10 pesos each at most convenience stores – the suspect told police that most of his victims are Europeans – he noted that no Filipino credit cards were hacked in the scheme.
Each card found on Stretcu when he was arrested contained a one time use of 20,000 pesos each – for a total of 1.8-million pesos.
Stretcu will be charged with violation of Republic Act 848 (the Access Devices Regulations Act of 1998) he was formally charged yesterday in the Cebu City’s Prosecutor’s Office.
When questioned about his crime, Stretcu admitted he had a German accomplice known to many as “Skinhead of Frankfurt”. He is said to have been the hacker of the accounts, the German is said to live somewhere in Europe, not in the Philippines.
Before being arrested, Stretcu was observed by mall security personnel as he was using numerous ATM machines to withdraw money. Security later called intelligence officers who noticed Stretcu using a light-green card to get the bills from the ATM.
Intelligence officials confront the Romanian and he later admitted his crime.
Stretcu may face deportation for his crime. The Bureau of Immigration, as well as the Romanian Embassy were notified of his crime and subsequent arrest.