Tarrant County

3 arrested in Tarrant County in multi-state skimming scam

Texas' Financial Crime Intelligence Center says three suspects were in Texas for approximately one week before investigators made arrests.

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Three people are in the Tarrant County Jail charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and unlawful use of electronic communications.

Investigators tell NBC 5 it stems from one of the most common ways fraudsters try to steal your money when you use an ATM.

By now, when withdrawing money from an ATM, we know to take the extra security step of concealing our PIN.

Financial fraud experts in Texas say even that, is likely not enough.

Jeff Roberts works with the Financial Crimes Intelligence Center.  The agency started up in 2022 after state lawmakers passed a bill designed to help coordinate investigations into organized financial fraud.

FCIC is a partnership of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) and the Smith County District Attorney’s Office.

“Right now, across the state, we have seen an uptick in skimming activity,” Roberts said.

This means investigators with FCIC, based in Tyler, have stayed busy.

In the most recent case, FCIC recovered 26 what it calls deep-insert skimmer devices and parts to create 13 more.

Skimmer devices have been around for more than a decade and rely on reading the back of the magnetic stripe on a credit card and often combining it with using a small pinhole camera to record a user’s pin.

It led to the arrest of three men in Tarrant County on June 14.

Mihai Florin Marienscu, 37, Nelu Nae, 36, and Mihai Vlaicu, 47 each face multiple charges related to organized criminal activity and unlawful use of electronic communications.

“As soon as we learned that these suspects were traveling into Texas, they were here less than a week total before an arrest was made,” Roberts says.

Investigators say the three are accused of placing skimming devices throughout Tarrant and Dallas County and are suspects in several skimmer investigations spanning multiple states.

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