Allegheny County

‘I know what I’ve done’: 2 men in custody after police track skimming scam in Pittsburgh-area stores

PITTSBURGH — Two men are in custody after police said they planted skimming devices on self-checkout machines at some Pittsburgh-area stores.

Frazer Township police began investigating after an employee at the Sam’s Club at Pittsburgh Mills mall noticed something amiss and discovered a skimming device at one of the self-checkouts early Thursday.

Frazer Township Police Chief Terry Kuhns told Channel 11 that police pulled surveillance video from the store, which shows the two men putting the device on the card scanner on Monday.

According to Chief Kuhns, Constatin Colceag and Raul-Mihai Cojocaru walked in and purchased paper towels — among other items — from the store. One of the men placed the skimmer on the machine while the other used his body to block others from witnessing the act.

Chief Kuhns also said the men returned to Sam’s Club twice to retrieve stolen credit and debit card information from the skimmer via Bluetooth.

Chief Kuhns said police were able to track down the men to a rental SUV with New Jersey license plates. Frazer Township police alerted other departments and on Friday, the car was pulled over on Route 8 and the suspects were taken into custody.

On Saturday morning, police executed a search warrant of the men’s hotel room and seized laptops, SD cards, a wallet, fake ID and two passports.

Under questioning, Cojocaru said, “I know what I’ve done. I can’t deny it.”

Chief Kuhn said Colceag and Cojocaru are Romanian nationals who possessed I.D. cards from the United Kingdom. The two flew into Pittsburgh from Seattle on May 13.

Authorities also said the men are connected to another skimmer in a Monroeville store, as well as skimmers across several locations in Kearny, New Jersey. Chief Kuhns said he expects more cases to emerge.

“I think it’s safe to assume that en route to the Pittsburgh area, they probably stopped at various locations and placed some of the skimmer devices. That’s a definite probability,” Chief Kuhns said.

Colceag and Cojocaru are being held at the Allegheny County Jail.