From the Office of the District Attorney:
Martinez, Calif. – Two fly-by-night individuals have been charged with multiple felonies and face misdemeanor charges in a sophisticated financial criminal scheme that defrauded hundreds of Californians receiving public assistance.
Florin Tanasa, 27, and 30-year-old Adam Nilsson each face seven felony counts that includes
second degree commercial burglary, grand theft, theft, forgery, and conspiracy. In addition, Tanasa and Nilsson face misdemeanor charges of possessing and/or using a fraudulent scanning device.
Both men, who have no known ties to Contra Costa County or the Bay Area, were arrested by Hercules Police Officers on December 1st at a Bank of America branch on Sycamore Avenue.
Police were called to the location after a bank official alerted authorities of consecutive cash withdrawals from EBT cards at the bank’s ATM. A search of their vehicle found 50 fraudulently cloned EBT cards, credit card skimming equipment, and thousands of dollars in cash. They were arraigned Tuesday in Martinez and entered a plea of not guilty.
Deputy District Attorney Dana Filkowski filed a court motion stating the defendants were flight risks, threats to public safety, and are also under investigation in the City of Belmont and Santa Barbara County for similar crimes. Moreover, Hercules Police authorities established probable cause that funds used by the defendants to post bail would likely come from their criminal activity. Filkowski asked Judge Nancy Davis Stark to set their bail at one-million dollars each – which she agreed to do.
“Nilsson and Tanasa are mobile perpetrators who have preyed upon California’s most vulnerable
residents,” Filkowski said. “Their financial crimes have bilked individuals and families of assistance they need for support. Had they been released on bail, they would have likely continued their criminal enterprise of defrauding those in need.”
There are ways for people to protect themselves from financial fraud at ATMs or Point of Sale machines.
The California Welfare Fraud Investigators Association features a video on how these scams work, and the California Department of Socials Services also has a video on common EBT scams.