Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Romanian crime groups plunder public benefits in San Diego

Bulk purchases of Red Bull and Monster Energy drinks were large. In late 2020, a group spent over $300k buying pallets of the product at grocery stores in downtown San Diego and Riverside. The group made arrangements with store managers to pick up the drinks. They resold them — and the profit would be huge, since they didn't pay for it. Money was pilfered from low-income public benefits recipients. Romanians are targeting state-issued cards loaded with EBT and unemployment benefits.
Experts at cloning debit and credit cards, state-issued benefit cards are more vulnerable since they lack the chips embedded on bank-issued debit and credit cards. Romanian criminals found a niche skimming ATMs and card readers. Skimmers targeting EBT cards were discovered last year at three Walmart stores in San Diego and the South Bay. Romanians began operating in San Diego at least as early as March 2022.