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City man charged with identity theft, credit card fraud

October 26, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Hagerstown man was jailed on $1.1 million bond last week after he was charged by Pennsylvania State Police in connection with a credit card fraud operation in which gift cards were purchased with reprogrammed credit cards and redeemed in California.

Police said Florin Adrian Manea, 28, of 136 Harvard Road, was charged with four counts of access device fraud, three counts of identity theft and one count of criminal conspiracy to commit forgery, according to the criminal complaint filed by state police.

District Justice Richard Alloway said he set bail that high because police believed Manea was a flight risk and federal authorities were interested in the case.

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Police said a man entered Wal-Mart on Sept. 9 and purchased two gift cards for $750 each. The credit card company later contacted Wal-Mart's loss prevention officer and told him the purchases were not approved by the account holder.

The gift cards were later redeemed for cash and purchases at a Wal-Mart in Huntington Beach, Calif., according to the affidavit of probable cause. The surveillance tape of the man making the purchase at the Chambersburg Wal-Mart was saved by the loss prevention officer, police said.

The customer service manager at the Chambersburg Wal-Mart said the man had a foreign accent and identified himself as being Italian, the affidavit states. The man said the gift cards were for his wife, the affidavit states.

On Wednesday, the customer service manager saw the man again and police were notified, the affidavit states.

Police said Manea and another man, Petros Luis Colla, 34, of 13927 Ridge Road, Waynesboro, Pa., went through one checkout line and purchased a $500 gift card. Two minutes later, they went through another checkout line and bought a second $500 gift card, police said.

The two men were then taken into custody for questioning, police said. The affidavit stated the check card used to buy the gift cards was issued by a Hagerstown bank to another person.

Police said Colla also carried other cards that bore his name, but had been reprogrammed with the account information of other people.

Colla told police he and Manea had gone to Wal-Mart stores in Hagerstown and Frederick, Md., earlier in the day to buy computers and gift cards, according to the affidavit.

Colla was charged with forgery, according to Alloway's office. Alloway said he was released on his own recognizance.

Manea is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing today in Franklin County Central Court.

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