Con­man’s ‘sleight of hand’ tricks

Carmarthen Journal - - Front Page - JA­SON EVANS 01792 545549 ja­[email protected]­

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.

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