A MANHUNT is on for two Romanian nationals who are believed to be part of an international skimming syndicate, which has carted away millions of pesos from LandBank of the Philippines (LBP) in Cebu.
"We are hunting them down because we believe that they are conspirators of the other Romanians accused of skimming (cash from) a bank," said Senior Supt. Jonathan Cabal, chief of the Regional Intelligence Division (RID).
Cabal said a mall turned over to his office an abandoned white Toyota Camry believed to be owned by the two Romanians caught by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 last Friday.
[Read: Romanians arrested in Cebu 'belong to foreign syndicate']
The intelligence official said the two Romanians left the car at the basement parking of Ayala Center Cebu last Thursday and went into the mall.
Guards found the window of the vehicle open. When the checked, they saw money inside.
They called the attention of mall management, who paged the car owners.
The two Romanians arrived and drove away.
The next day, two different foreigners drove the same car and left it in the parking lot.
Cabal said that the mall's security camera caught the faces of the four foreigners. The two last Thursday resembled the Romanians, who are in custody. They were also identified by the guards.
The RID has yet to identify the other two.
Cabal said they recovered laptops inside the car but they can't open these until they crack the passwords.
Cabal said they will also ask the mall for a copy of the footage.
According to Land Transportation Office records, the car is registered to Sebastian Rama Oros of Villa Sol, Colorado St., Angeles City, Pampanga.
NBI 7 Special Investigator III Florante Gaoiran said that they will be coordinating with the RID.
When agents searched the Romanians' condominium last Friday, they found two more identification cards belonging to foreigners, including a Hungarian national.
The NBI 7 believes the foreigners belong to a syndicate, which has victimized 50 LBP depositors and caused 2,000 bank accounts to be blocked as a security measure.
In a related development, retired Judge Meinrado Paredes, who lost P100,000 to a skimming incident, submitted his affidavit yesterday, while more than 10 victims went to the NBI 7 to file their complaints against the three Romanians, who are in custody.
Atty. Christoper Ruiz, a retired police senior inspector, acted as the Romanians' lawyer when their case was docketed in the City Prosecutors Office yesterday afternoon.
"They told me that they are innocent. They said that the only mistake they saw was them being Romanians," Ruiz said.
The three Romanians are facing charges for violation of Republic Act 8484, which regulates the issuance and the use of access devices.
They were identified as Ionut Alessandrou, Razvan Aurelian and Costel Ion, alias Alin Dumitru Chirita and "Daniel Dawis." They were brought to the prosecutor's office for the docketing. The inquest is set today.
Another Romanian known as Mircea Bordan, alias Jozef Gal, is included in the case even if he is still at large.
NBI 7 Director Atty. Patricio Bernales said that they did not include the case of theft that was filed by victims in his office.
The charges they filed were related to the evidence they confiscated like skimming devices believed to have been used to steal millions of cash with the use of microchip card readers and clone cards.