High-Tech International ID Thieves Active in North Texas: Police

Two Romanian men arrested in ATM skimming crimes

Two Romanian men stole customers' ATM card numbers and PINs in North Texas and were part of a high-tech international ring that ripped off many millions of dollars in Texas and other states, police say.

In September 2014, Marius Miclescu, 24, was arrested near an Arlington money machine.

Officers discovered a sophisticated electronic device on the ATM that copied card numbers and a tiny camera that captured PINs, police said.

In December, police in Westworth Village responded to a report of a man lurking around an ATM at the Navy Federal Credit Union near Alta Mere Drive and White Settlement Road.

Police said they arrested the man, 31-year-old Gabriel Popa, and allegedly found a device on that ATM nearly identical to the one discovered in Arlington.

Popa was arrested as he left the parking lot, said Westworth Village police Det. Darren Clark, who investigated the case.

"I had never seen anything like this before in my career," Clark said.

Clark said he was surprised to learn the man had come to North Texas all the way from Romania and apparently was part of a much larger criminal group.

"He's part of an organized group that their sole mission in life is to defraud American consumers of their money," he said. "This is a very sophisticated crime organization."

Clark said it was difficult to know how many members of the group there are but said there "could still be dozens out there."

As for how much money the group has stolen, Clark said it almost certainly in the millions of dollars.

"I know we had over 400 credit card numbers that we found on the equipment we seized from him," Clark said. "It's a lot of money."

Popa is appealing his 30-month sentence in federal court.

Miclescu pleaded guilty in Tarrant County District Court and is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Attorneys for each man declined to comment.

Police said Popa and Miclescu entered the United States illegally and face deportation after serving their sentences.

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