ARNOLD, Mo. – The suburbs appear to be the target of international criminals, reportedly using hand tricks to steal thousands. But they’re not getting away with it here in the St. Louis area.
Arnold Police reportedly took down two separate international crime plots recently. They sold one with a suspect’s surveillance picture and a Canadian newspaper.
“We didn’t know who he was,” Detective Corporal Josh Wineinger said.
Investigators had been tracking the suspect, who was reportedly stealing thousands of dollars from local Walmart stores, including five days this past June, which netted more than $16,000.
“An international suspect, and at that point we knew we have him identified, now we can dive further into the investigation,” Wineinger said.
The facial recognition match gave the police a name, listed in the Canadian newspaper article. The suspect, identified as Mohsen Akbari, has been charged with a scheme to defraud. Federal court records say the suspect targeted at least 13 states, stealing more than $33,000 while in the U.S. on a South Korean visitor’s visa.
Weininger also showed us video from a different retail theft case to show an example of the trickery. In the video he shared, he says the suspected thief told the clerk that he handed over too much cash and then received back some of the money he shouldn’t have.
“…buying a thousand dollars of gift cards and there’s only $500 in there,” Weininger said.
Arnold Police also busted a Romanian crime ring in 2022, tracking two women and a man who have since pleaded guilty to a gift card sleight-of-hand scheme that netted more than $224,000 nationwide.
“Arnold’s quick response time was able to get them before they moved onto some other businesses in our community,” federal prosecutor Matt Drake said.
Arnold Police uses a special business resource team that store employees can directly dial for help. Drake said officers also collaborated with other departments.
“…Homeland Security Investigations, and ICE, and realized that these people were here all illegally and had been deported on multiple occasions in the past,” Drake said. “When they’re done serving their criminal sentences here, they’ll get removed again.”
Defendants Daniel Rostas, Legenda Rostas, and Loredana Angel, have been imprisoned and reportedly admitted to illegally wiring some of their proceeds to Romania.
Detective Corporal Wineinger is proud of his department but said it’s much bigger than just his team.
“There were so many agencies involved in this, not just Arnold,” he said.
They’re already on another possible trail.