Charges were filed yesterday against the three Romanians who were tagged in the series of unauthorized withdrawals from automated teller machines (ATM) of Metro Cebu branches of the Land Bank of the Philippines.
Ionut Alexandru Mitrache, Ion Costel, and Razvan Aurelian Stancu were charged for violating Republic Act 8484 or the Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998 and theft at the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office at 4:55 p.m.
Also charged was Mircea Jordan, an alleged cohort of the suspects who remains at large.
Due to time constraints, the complaints were just docketed by the receiving clerk. The formal inquest proceedings will follow today.
At least 10 depositors, including retired Judge Meinrado Paredes, went to the regional National Bureau of Investigation (NBI-7) office yesterday morning to file complaints against the suspects.
NBI-7 Director Patricio Bernales said the complaints from the depositors will be filed separately.
The suspects were accompanied by their lawyers Christopher Ruiz and Mario Montenegro when they were brought to the prosecutor’s office.
“They insist that they are innocent. Their only fault is that they are Romanians,” said Ruiz, echoing his clients’ claim that they are victims of mistaken identity.
At least 50 persons claimed to have been victims of ATM skimming in Cebu.
Mitrcahe, Costel, and Stancu were arrested by NBI-7 agents last Friday after their facial features matched those of the suspects who allegedly installed skimming devices at the ATMs of Land Bank of the Philippines.
The NBI secured a copy of the footage of the closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed near at least three ATM machines of Land Bank of the Philippines in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu.
P 3M in parked car
The Regional Intelligence Division (RID) recovered an abandoned Toyota Camry car believed to be used by the Romanians.
The car with plate number ZKM 158 was found at the parking area of Ayala Center Cebu Basement 2 last Thursday, March 16.
The security guards peeped at the opened car windows and found P3 million in cash, said Senior Supt. Jonathan Cabal, head of RID.
“So pina-paging nila sa mall para ma-announce kung sino ang may-ari ng sasakyan (The guards asked the mall management to announce the presence of a car whose windows were left open),” he said.
Moments later, two Romanians arrived and claimed the money.
A day after, the security guards learned from news reports that the two Romanians who claimed the money were among those arrested by the NBI in relation to the ATM skimming in Cebu on March 17.
On the same day, Friday, the mall’s security guards noticed the same vehicle at the parking area.
No one returned to claim the vehicle, prompting the mall security to call the attention of the police last Sunday.
Recovered inside the car were two laptops, Cabal said.
“Those laptops will be subjected to forensic exam. We don’t know yet why no one claimed the vehicle,” he said.
Based on the records of the Land Transportation Office, the car was registered to a certain Sebastian Rama Oros who is based in Villa Sol Colorado Street in Angeles, Pampanga.
“Perhaps the vehicle was rented or stolen,” Cabal said.
The Cebu Bankers Club (CBC) later echoed the call of law enforcement authorities for victims of ATM skimming to step forward.
“This development proves that our law enforcers, though facing the toughest of adversity in this case, are doing its very best to maintain the city’s peace and order,” CBC president Eugene Rigodon said.