At least four people from Romania, one of them in custody, face charges connected to a jewelry sales scam that continues to target people along Alaska’s road system from Fairbanks to the Kenai Peninsula and out the Glenn Highway.
Alaska State Troopers said last week that they arrested two 21-year-old men in Fairbanks in what they believe is a larger criminal conspiracy that law enforcement agencies warned the public about throughout the summer.
The Anchorage Police Department said at the end of September it issued warrants for three other suspects: Alexandru Monalisa, Andrei David and Sorin Caldararu. Police believe they have left the state.
Dozens of reports about the scam came from communities including Fairbanks, Homer, Soldotna and Tok, said troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel. Reports were still being made this week, he said.
Police and troopers described the scam this way: One or two people approach someone in a parking lot and ask them to buy jewelry so they can use the money to get home or because their car broke down. The people selling the jewelry do not appear to be from Alaska, McDaniel said. They say they can’t sell the items personally because they’re foreigners, authorities say.
Many victims later discover the jewelry is made from fake gold when they try to sell it, McDaniel said.
Anchorage police first contacted 42-year-old Monalisa, 48-year-old David and 34-year-old Caldararu on Aug. 25 in the parking lot of an Eagle River gas station, according to a sworn affidavit signed by Detective Chris Thomas. An officer responded to a complaint about the group and watched Caldararu sell a gold ring to a man at the gas pump for $200, the affidavit said.
The man who bought the ring told police Caldararu said he needed money to get back to Canada, the affidavit said.
Caldararu was brought to Anchorage police headquarters for an interview, the affidavit said. Monalisa and David were in the car with Caldararu, it said. Police also interviewed David, who said he was visiting Alaska for a short trip.
Caldararu was charged with a misdemeanor charge of theft by deception following the interview and released on his own recognizance, the affidavit said.
Officers executed a search warrant on the car Caldararu was driving several days after the interview and found more than 135 pieces of fake gold jewelry, the affidavit said.
Warrants were issued last week for all three suspects on charges of criminal possession of a forgery device and criminal simulation. David is also facing a charge of third-degree theft and Monalisa is charged with providing false information.
One of the men arrested in Fairbanks following fake gold jewelry sales there remained in custody as of Friday: Valentin Miclescu, arrested for using a fake Romanian identification card including for air travel, troopers said.
It wasn’t clear if charges had been filed against the other man, who troopers said was arrested on suspicion of second-degree theft for using a debit card not in his name. He was not in custody on Friday. Further information about the case was not available from a Department of Law spokesman.
Anyone who notices behavior that appears to be tied to the scam is encouraged to report it to their local police department or troopers, McDaniel said.
“It’s really something that Alaskans are going to have to pay attention to,” he said. “If there’s something that sounds a little too good to be true, it probably is.”
Source : ADN