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Prosecutors say Ventura County based mastermind of debit card fraud operation headed to prison

Bill Oxford

Ring targeted low income people who received debit cards from the state to help with essentials like food.

A Romanian man living in Ventura County has been sentenced to more than six years in federal prison for leading a ring which stole relief money from low income families.

Prosecutors say Marius Oprea ran an operation which put skimmers on bank ATMs to steal data from people who had debit cards issued by the state’s anti-poverty programs. They say the data was used with counterfeit cards to steal money from the victims accounts.

Oprea was living in short-term housing in Port Hueneme. Prosecutors say he came to the U.S. specifically to run the sophisticated operation, which involved a number of accomplices.

He pled guilty to conspiracy to commit brank fraud. In addition to a 75-month prison sentence, Oprea was ordered to pay nearly $29,000 in restitution.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.