ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A construction worker in south St. Louis County may have helped break up an international bank theft ring.
Mrejuica Madalin, 30, and Laszlo Solomes, 31, of Romania, were in the United States illegally, but somehow made it to St. Louis and got more than $4,000 out of the ATM at the Patriot Credit Union on Telegraph Road near Forder.
That construction worker, David Snyder, is also a U.S. Army veteran. According to Snyder, something just didn’t look right when he noticed the two men shoving card after card into the ATM around 7 a.m. Tuesday.
“I see them put a card in, get money out, put another card in, pin number, get money out,” he said. “I figured, ‘Ok, there’s something fishy going on here.’ I told a female cop, ‘There he is, he’s driving off.’ She puts her siren on, chases him (down).”
Their vehicle had Colorado license plates.
Solomes’ Hungarian passport was valid but he was refused entry into the US at LAX in April 2017, authorities said. Madalin’s Belgian passport was said to be a fake.
Authorities found more evidence inside the Westport Sheraton hotel room where the two were staying.
“They found a real large cache of more than 100 prepaid debit cards, store cards. They had an encoding machine. They had a laptop. They also had two passports,” said Asst. US Attorney Tom Albus. “It could be that he entered a different country and just walked into the US, either through Mexico or Canada. We just don’t know at this point.
“The immigration people have these guys coming and going all over the world, but if it weren’t for this one construction worker that picked up the phone and called St. Louis County (police), we wouldn’t be able to bring these resources to bear. So, we’re really grateful to that gentleman who picked up the phone on Tuesday morning.”
The pair appeared in federal court Friday afternoon on charges of credit card fraud.
This is just the beginning of this case. Given their level of sophistication, they may be part of a larger international criminal enterprise, though there's no suspicion of anything terror-related at this point, authorities said.