Got ‘Em: CNY Police Arrest Couple Behind Nationwide Walmart Parking Lot Scam
Authorities in Central New York say they have arrested the couple behind a persistent parking lot scam involving a sob-story and a car load of fake merchandise. It's believed they've been scamming people all across the U.S. However, police also say the couple is now free again after being released with only an appearance ticket.
Oneida City Police say they were alerted that a couple was stopping people in the Oneida Walmart parking lot on Wednesday and trying to sell airpods for cash, saying they needed the money for gas. Officers thought it sounded similar to stories they'd heard earlier this month involving a couple at the Rome Walmart, stopping people to share their hard luck story and then attempting to sell, and in some cases selling, phony 'gold' jewelry claiming they need cash for gas to get home to Florida.
Ultimately, Madison County Sheriff's Deputies pulled over their vehicle, a black SUV, on Route 5 and say they found a haul of fake AirPods, IPhones, 'gold', and about a $4,000 in real cash. The couple, from Romania, has fessed up, admitting to investigators that they were trying to sell items that they knew were fake, police said.
They were issue appearance tickets for petit larceny and for soliciting without a license. While they've now been set free and ordered to return to court at a future date, police say they also notified U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement because due to their status as immigrants from Romania.
Police say the couple also possessed identification from the State of Washington and believe they've conducted this scam and variations of it in Florida, New York, Nebraska, Washington, California, "and likely many other locations throughout the country", Oneida City Police said.
A man in the parking lot of the Rome Walmart fell victim to the con just recently, coughing up $1,300 some jewelry that looked real, but cops say was not.
They are identified as Ionut Mustata, 27, and Frasineanu Rodica-Ioana, 22.
Cops say after confiscating all of their fake jewelry and other merchandise, the also took note of the GPS device inside the vehicle. It showed they had just come to Oneida from Rome, and their next stop was the Walmart in East Syracuse.
"Please be aware of this scam and never offer money in exchange for items under these types of circumstances," police wrote on Facebook.
Photos included in this post are of the actual suspects and the phony merch they been selling for cash in parking lots, police said.