Police: Camera used to steal PIN numbers in organized crime scheme
Truckee Police have arrested a man in a high-tech identity theft scheme. Valentin Ruducan, 31, was booked into the Nevada County Jail on charges of burglary, possession of stolen property and fraudulent use of a credit card, according to reports.
Ruducan’s nationality is being investigated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, police said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations has joined the Truckee Police Department in investigating what Cmdr. Scott Berry of the Truckee PD has called “a very sophisticated case.”
On Wednesday around 6 p.m., Truckee police officers were advised of two suspects in a silver van acting suspicious near the U.S. Bank branch on Donner Pass Road. Officer Jason Paletta searched the area and found a suspect wearing dark clothing, later identified as Valentin Ruducan, talking to another male subject on a two-way radio.
A silver van was parked across the street from the bank in the Mountain Medical Center parking lot with the motor running. Ruducan stated that the van belonged to a friend that he was with, but did not provide any further information about the friend. No one was in or around the van; however, officers noticed a new coffee maker in the van as well as the laptop and a suitcase.
Further investigation determined that Ruducan had purchased more than $1,100 worth of coffee equipment from Starbucks using two different credit cards that were reported to have been either lost or stolen in North Lake Tahoe earlier in the day, police said.
Reports indicate when he was arrested, Ruducan had three credit cards in his possession that had been reported lost or stolen.
While checking the van, Sgt. Tim Hargrove noticed a video grabber device on the dashboard that was attached to a laptop computer.
Hargrove then checked the area around the U.S. Bank ATM machine and discovered a piece of gray metal attached to the ATM with a small pinhole in it. The metal piece appeared to be part of the original ATM, but closer inspection revealed it to be a pinhole-lens camera.
Police believe the camera was broadcasting PIN numbers of potential victims to the laptop computer across the street.
Investigators are still seeking another man linked to the identity theft scheme who is thought to have fled to Reno in a taxi. The silver van was rented in Las Vegas, and at press time, Truckee police officers were in the process of obtaining a search warrant to examine the contents of the vehicle.
According to Berry, the FBI has told Truckee police that the two men involved in the scheme are part of a group of criminals operating out of Las Vegas who are responsible for more than $1 billion worth of losses.
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