Conman’s ‘sleight of hand’ tricks
A CONMAN took a day trip to Wales from his home in Birmingham and made more than £800 with “sleight of hand” skills which were likened to those of a magician.
Constantin Munteanu targeted a post office near Llanelli and a building society in Carmarthen for the scam before heading back home – stopping en route to repeat the trick at a pawnbrokers in Bristol.
Swansea Crown Court heard the offences took place in June 2013, but Munteanu subsequently went on the run – first to Ireland and then to his native Romania.
The 30-year-old was eventually picked up when he flew back to the UK last year.
Dyfed Thomas, prosecuting, said that on the morning of June 20, 2013, Munteanu and an accomplice entered the post office in Tumble and asked the person behind the counter if they could change £800 in £10 notes into £20 notes.
Forty £20 notes were duly counted out, but the defendant then told the cashier there had been a misunderstanding and he had wanted Euro not pounds. During the currency distraction he was able to remove some £440 from the pile of cash by “sleight of hand” before leaving the premises.
The prosecutor said Munteanu and his coconman then drove on to Carmarthen where they repeated the same “ruse” at the Britannia building society in Nott Square – this time pocketing £420.
On the way home they stopped at a Cash Converter shop in Southmead in Bristol where they pulled a variation on the same scam, this time stealing 200 euros.
The court heard a subsequent police investigation traced Munteanu’s movements in a blue VW Passat on the day in question. He was picked up by automatic number plate recognition cameras leav- ing Birmingham on the M5 then crossing the Severn Bridge just after 1am and travelling down the M4 to Swansea then on to Llanelli and Camarthen.
He was arrested in Surrey on September 19 and gave a “no comment” interview to officers other than to tell them he worked in a car wash in Birmingham.
Mr Thomas said CCTV footage from the post office and building society, as well as forensic and camera evidence, linked the defendant to the scams, and when his Passat was searched officers found £860 in the glove box.
The prosecutor said an officer in the case had likened Munteanu’s skills to those of a magician.
The court heard the defendant was released on bail but failed to turn up at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court the following February. He was subsequently arrested in the June and bailed again – at which point he disappeared.
Munteanu, of Foxwell Grove, Bordesley Green, Birmingham, had admitted three counts of theft and two counts of failing to answer court bail.
Judge David Hale told the defendant he deliberately drove to Wales to find victims to use his “skill of manipulation and counting money” on.
Munteanu was jailed for two years and three months.
Constantin Munteanu was sentenced to two years and three months in prison for stealing £860 from two Carmarthenshire businesses with sleight of hand tricks.