The Arkansas City, KS. Police Department is awaiting the extradition from Texas of one of the suspects in the “skimming” of account information from local ATMs. A Houston, Texas man is being held on a Cowley County District Court warrant stemming from three incidents reported to the Arkansas City Police Department back in November and December of 2018.
18 year-old Vasile Serban was served with the warrant while he was in custody in Texas for related offenses and an immigration hold. The district court issued a warrant on February 6, listing a bond amount of $100,000 in connection with various financial crimes and thefts that occurred in Arkansas City.
Among the charges are three counts of theft by deception, one count each of criminal damage to property and theft, and more than 100 counts of identity theft. Ark City Police is still gathering information for the identity theft charges while they wait for Serban to be extradited back to Kansas for prosecution.
Police were informed in December 2018 that credit and debit card-skimming-devices had been located on two ATMs in Arkansas City, which the local banks later notified customers. To give some history to the event, on December 20, 2018, an Arkansas City bank employee located what was suspected to be a credit card skimming device on an ATM. Officers responded to collect the device and quickly began to check the other ATMs in the city. A second skimming device was found not too long after at a different bank.
The Arkansas City Police Department, along with the cooperation of the affected banks, was able to distribute images of a male and female driving a red Volkswagen Jetta that morning. No viable leads were uncovered at that time. Further investigation determined that the pair had successfully skimmed credit card information the day before and “cashed out” cloned credit cards in the Wichita area for nearly $18,000.
Later that same day on December 20, officers took a report from the Arkansas City Walmart that a male had broken into the store’s iPhone display, removed an iPhone X Max and left the store without paying. Surveillance video confirmed the description of the person who allegedly stole the iPhone matched that of the suspect from the credit card skimming incidents.
Investigators worked to secure video surveillance from several Wichita locations and were able to confirm that the same suspect was seen in all of the surveillance footage’s. Serban, who is the male suspect, also had been captured on video surveillance from an earlier case reported to the Arkansas City Police Department in November 2018.
On November 8, an Arkansas City bank reported that a person withdrew $7,000 from an ATM on numerous transactions. The account corresponds to a bank in Texas. It was thought that the cards being used were cloned ones. Then the Ark City police received a report that one of the cards skimmed on December 19 was used at a convenience store in Houston on December 31. As a result, a local media outlet ran a story on their website with updated information that skimming suspects could possibly be in the Houston area.
The department used its Twitter account to circulate the suspect’s picture again on January 3, since the account has plenty of followers from Texas. It was shortly when the u.S. department of Homeland Security requested photos of the suspect. It would be January 31 when the big news happened. that is the day where investigators received a call from a San Marcos, Texas detective who had seen the news articles and social media posts about the crimes, and that San Marcos Police had arrested a suspect for possessing cloned credit cards and a device to make those cards. The suspect’s name and date-of-birth matched the information gathered by Arkansas City police investigators and photographs confirmed the same.
Officers worked to secure an arrest warrant for Serban in connection with financial crimes and the theft of the iPhone from Walmart in Arkansas City. The department learned that an immigration hold had been placed on Serban, as well. The investigation will continue through Serban’s extradition to Kansas while investigators gather information from local residents who have fallen victim to credit card skimming.
Local Ark City banks will be contacting account holders whose information was compromised and ask them to contact the Arkansas City Police Department by phone or email, to enable the department to file identity theft charges for each individual account that was compromised.
Additionally, the department will submit the two devices it collected to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to reveal data skimmed by both devices through mid-day on December 20, 2018.