TEXARKANA, TEXAS – The Texarkana Texas Police Department arrested Catalin Miclescu, 23, and his wife, Bianca Miclescu, 21, both of Houston Texas, after they used altered gift cards to withdraw money from local ATMs on December 9. A sixteen year old juvenile was arrested in a separate incident earlier that same day. Officers recovered approximately $19,000 in cash and a large number of the altered gift cards.
Officer Jonathan Price was dispatched to a suspicious person call at the Red River Federal Credit Union, located at 2700 University Avenue, at 4:35 that afternoon. A representative of the credit union said that a man in a white sedan was attempting to use multiple cards at the ATM. Officer Price arrived and discovered the vehicle was still at the drive up ATM and he pulled in behind it. After noticing that the license plate was not a valid number, he initiated a traffic stop as the vehicle pulled away. The vehicle immediately fled south on University Avenue at high rate of speed and driver abandoned the vehicle in the Lowes parking lot. Following a short foot chase, Officer Price captured the driver and managed to place him under arrest after a brief scuffle. Officers found multiple gift cards, each with a small sticker with four digits that proved to be a PIN associated to different checking accounts. It was determined that the driver was sixteen years old, and he was turned over to juvenile authorities after he was interviewed by detectives.
Approximately 90 minutes later, a second call from Red River Credit Union was received related to similar activity at their ATM located at 402 Walton Drive. The caller said a grey vehicle was trying to complete a transaction using a stolen card. Officer Colton Johnson arrived as a vehicle matching the description was pulling out of the parking lot and he noticed that the license number was fictitious and almost identical to the one displayed on the vehicle in the earlier incident. The vehicle was occupied by Catalin Miclescu, Bianca Miclescu, and two small children who were laying asleep in the back seat. The two adults were arrested without incident and the children were turned over the Child Protective Services.
The license plate on both vehicles had been covered with a paper printout that was made to resemble a real license plate. The “homemade” paper plates were attached over the real license plates using velcro.
The three arrests resulted in the recovery of approximately $18,000 in cash and an assortment of 217 gift cards that had been reprogrammed with victims’ bank account information to act like debit cards. Officers also found hundreds of ATM transaction receipts from several financial institutions in northeast Texas. It is believed that the bank account information had previously been obtained using skimmers in the Texarkana area and across the country.
Catalin Miclescu was charged with Credit or Debit Card Abuse, Fraudulent Use of Identifying Information (more than 50 items), and Fictitious License Plate. He was released from jail after posting a $130,000 bond on December 13.
Bianca Miclescu was charged with Credit or Debit Card Abuse, Fraudulent Use of Identifying Information (more than 50 items), and a Child Safety Seat Violation. She remains in custody at the Bi-State Jail, where her bond has been set at $110,000.
The juvenile was charged Fraudulent Use of Identifying Information (more than 50 items), Fictitious License Plate, and Evading Arrest with a Vehicle. He remains in custody at a juvenile detention facility.
The Miclescu children, ages 3 and 6, continue to be in the care of Child Protective Services.