Project Lucid: Three more distraction theft suspects arrested

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Durham Region (January 29, 2020) – The Durham Regional Police arrested three more suspects in connection with distraction thefts as a result of an investigation dubbed Project Lucid. The investigation team was created by the Durham police after various incidents occurred using distraction techniques and shoulder-surfing in order to fraudulently obtain PIN numbers and credit cards. After the first three arrests in October 2019, Liliana Cucos and Constantin Stingaciu were apprehended on December 11, 2019. On January 20, the police arrested Catalin Borcoi. They face multiple charges including Theft of Credit Card, Possess Identity Information, Use of Credit Card, Fraud Under $5,000, Possess Property Obtained by Crime, and Identity Fraud.

In October 2019, Project Lucid investigators arrested three distraction theft suspects and charged them with a total of 114 fraud related charges. The Durham Police now apprehended three more suspects as a consequence of ongoing investigations according to a press release.

Distraction theft suspects: theft, credit card, and identity fraud

In the wake of Project Lucid investigations, the police arrested Liliana Cucos (49) and Constantin Stingaciu (32) on December 11, 2019. Cucos and Stingaciu are accused of a distraction theft, credit card and identity fraud incident mid-November of last year. Allegedly, they distracted an elderly woman while she was shopping at a Bowmanville store. In the meantime, they stole her debit and credit cards as well as her PIN numbers. The duo then used the prey from their theft to make fraudulent purchases at stores in Oshawa and Bowmanville.

Furthermore, on January 20, the police made their sixth arrest in this investigation with Catalin Borcoi (40). They accuse Borcoi of targeting an elderly female in Pickering in August 2019 with the same scheme. He committed frauds in Pickering and Scarborough with the stolen cards.

All three suspects are of no fixed address according to the police. The authorities charged them with Theft of Credit Card, Possess Identity Information, Use of Credit Card, Fraud Under $5,000, Possess Property Obtained by Crime, and Identity Fraud. They were held for bail hearings.

Project Lucid

Last year the Durham Regional Police formed Project Lucid with the assistance of the Calgary Police Service, Peel Regional Police, and other community partners after various incidents occurred using distraction techniques and shoulder-surfing in order to fraudulently obtain PIN numbers and credit cards.

The investigative team accomplished their first arrests on October 27 when Persida Corciu (43), Andrei Preda (33), and Petrache Dadaci (48) were arrested at Pearson International Airport for numerous distraction thefts in the Durham Region and Calgary. Their charges included Theft of Credit Card, Possess Identity Information, Fraud Under $5,000, Possession of Property Obtained by Crime, and Identity Fraud.

Read more: Three suspects are facing a total of 114 fraud-related charges

In order to protect yourself from distraction thefts and shoulder-surfing, the police recommend carrying cash and debit or credit cards separately. Additional advised precautions are:

  • Always shield the PIN pad when entering your PIN at any ATM, retail store or financial institution.
  • While at an ATM, or paying for merchandise, be aware of anyone standing nearby who can observe you entering your PIN.
  • If you encounter someone who says you have dropped money when you have not, proceed to a safe place and report the incident to police.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact D/Cst. Hall of the East Division Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 1614. Anonymous information can be sent to Durham Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or online at www.durhamregionalcrimestoppers.ca. The police inform that tipsters may be eligible for a $2,000 cash reward.