Romanian national Catalin Raazvan has been found guilty of using counterfeit credit cards to steal money from Bank South Pacific (B.S.P.)-owned automated teller machines (A.T.M).
He has been sentenced to seven months imprisonment after he was found guilty of 30 charges in connection with using of counterfeited cards to steal money from A.T.M.
Presiding District Court Judge, Alalatoa Rosella Papali’i, described the theft as a ‘sophisticated operation’ and said the bank and its customers suffered as a result of his actions.
“You are a Romanian national, who visited our shores as a tourist. You submitted as evidence proof of moneys you sent to yourself from Tonga. This is a dead giveaway as it offers further proof you were in Tonga. Your mother submitted a letter basically saying despite your weaknesses you are a good boy,” she stated in her ruling.
“But I do not believe that either as also evident from the letter she sent along with your sister’s one, you are problematic and rebellious. Your mother said you grew up feeling that your father did not love you and felt neglected by him. I have watched you intently throughout these proceedings, and observe your cold, indifferent and angry character.”
According to the victim impact report, Catalin’s criminal activities led to the bank implementing a multimillion dollar project to enhance the security features for all cards and the bank’s electronic devices.
“Although the fraudulent transactions did not affect any local customers, they still questioned the security of their funds and safety of the bank’s electronic system. There is also fear about the security of our border system, especially since perpetrators like yourself are now penetrating our banking systems even to the point of travelling here to execute.”
The bank suffered a financial loss in the sum of $3,750 as they had to reimburse customers whose bank accounts were affected.
The prosecution, in their submission to the court, argued that the aggravating factors were high as the accused studied the locations of the different A.T.M. before setting out to commit the crime.
Judge Alalatoa, when considering all these factors before sentencing Catalin, said it was the second such incident in Samoa and the accused came all the way from Romania to execute his plan.
“But I am sending out this message to you and all others tempted to come to our shores and commit these crimes. Do not underestimate the security systems now in place to protect customers and our people who are particularly vulnerable to the fraudulent activities of this nature and others. If you feel tempted to come here and commit these crimes, be ready to face the consequences. You will not get a slap on the wrist and walk away scot free. You will answer for your crime."