US Self-Checkouts Are Targets For Romanian Mafia Debit Fraud

The ongoing tension about border security and illegal immigration has gained new footing with the recent revelation of an extensive debit scamming operation that was connected to the Romanian mafia.

While money skimmers have been known to access debit card information at ATMs and gas stations, prosecutors working to dismantle the latest scam targeting low-income consumers have shared that people are being robbed by individuals taking their information from scanners at self-checkouts.

This crime is often committed by people who stand outside popular retailers like Walmart or Target, presenting as panhandlers. However, they are simultaneously swiping the numbers of cards used on the self-checkout machines. They reportedly use Bluetooth devices that are linked to the skimmers inside the stores.

According to Kimberly Edds, the public affairs director for Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, there are “thousands of criminals” who are thought to be connected to organized crime conducted by the Romanian mafia. She told Fox News Digital that “a large portion” of these criminals found in the United States have come into the country “illegally [and] mainly through the southern border.”

Edds also pointed out that “a smaller portion” of this highly sought out group of scammers pass the border “as asylum seekers” who are additionally suspected of obtaining baby formula and energy drinks with food stamps — which were later resold in Mexico, presumably in a business move with the cartels.

In a statement, the California district attorney criticized the reality that “hardworking people who need a helping hand” are left “humiliated” in a checkout line “because a thief has surreptitiously taken everything” in their bank accounts. He also emphasized that the stolen money from low-income Americans is then used to “fund organized crime,” purchase expensive vehicles and “lead a life of luxury” that is simply unattainable for the consumers they robbed.

The details shared by prosecutors with Fox News Digital come two months after authorities in Orange County, California, arrested nearly 50 suspects involved in a scheme that stole EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards from low-income families. One of the suspects arrested was reportedly a highly wanted criminal from Romania. The team had been trading the money from the cards for items like baby formula, of which there is a shortage in Mexico, and trading it with drug cartels in that country.