Off duty officer helps track down Maidstone fraudster
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A Maidstone fraudster who applied for bank cards using victims’ personal details has been jailed.
On 9 August 2021, a Kent Police officer was off duty in Church Road when he saw some men in a grey BMW acting suspiciously. He reported the incident to his colleagues and on the following day, the vehicle was spotted by a patrol in Sutton Road.
The officers stopped the car and spoke to the driver, Constantin Barbuc. He tried to give a false name and the constables completed a search which located a bank card and documentation relating to a resident in Church Road.
When the person named on the bank card was contacted, they confirmed it had been fraudulently obtained using their personal details.
The officers also recovered a fly swatter with double-sided adhesive tape, which they suspected had been used to retrieve mail from letter boxes.
Further bank cards and identity documents were also located and Barbuc was arrested.
A search was completed at his home address and, in total, investigators seized 37 bank and credit cards, 13 mobile phones, 15 driving licences, four computers and six chip & PIN readers. They also recovered more than 100 documents and letters suspected to have been stolen from letter boxes.
Enquiries identified Barbuc had used another fraudulently obtained bank card to purchase fuel from a petrol station and items from a shop prior to his arrest.
Barbuc, of Mill Street, Maidstone was later charged with two counts of fraud. He pleaded guilty and at Maidstone Crown Court on 1 September 2022, the 37-year-old was sentenced to one year and seven months in prison.
Detective Constable Matt Thomas, of Maidstone CID, said: ‘This was a sophisticated fraud committed by Barbuc who was probably part of an organised crime group. By applying for bank accounts using victims’ details and then intercepting the mail, they were able to make purchases before their crimes were uncovered. Fortunately, they were seen by an alert officer whilst off duty and his colleagues later stopped Barbuc in possession of incriminating evidence.
‘I would advise anybody who receives documentation about a new account they have not requested, to contact their bank or building society immediately, using the phone number on the rear of their card.’
Further advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of this type of fraud is available here.