3 Romanians plead guilty to fraud in St. Louis following HSI, APD investigation
ST. LOUIS — Three Romanian citizens pleaded guilty to federal charges in St. Louis and admitted running a “short-change fraud” in stores across the country following a joint investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Missouri’s Arnold Police Department.
Loredana Angel, 34, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court April 13 to felony charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and illegal reentry of an alien. Daniel Rostas, 30, pleaded guilty Wednesday, and Legenda Rostas, 28, pleaded guilty March 1 to the same charges. Angel and Legenda Rostas told authorities that they are sisters and that the Rostas are married.
All three admitted engaging in sleight of hand to defraud Target stores since 2017 while buying various denominations of Visa gift cards. When purchasing the cards, they displayed the full purchase price in cash, then folded over a portion and kept it while handing the rest to store employees. They targeted younger or less experienced employees and wired the money they made to family in Romania.
Target records show Legenda Rostas was involved in $224,666 in fraud at stores throughout the country, her plea agreement says. Angel admitted involvement in about $83,865 in fraud. Records show Daniel Rostas wired approximately $62,534 to Romania and elsewhere.
All three also admitted entering the country illegally. Angel was removed from the United States on June 24, 2019. Daniel Rostas was removed twice, on Nov. 13, 2019, and Oct. 14, 2020. Legenda Rostas was removed on Dec. 28, 2020.
A Home Depot loss prevention officer initially alerted Arnold police to Daniel Rostas on Oct. 14, 2022. Officers later questioned Angel and Legenda Rostas. All three gave fake names and false identification to police. They were traveling with multiple license plates in their minivan, and police also found cash, gift cards and Western Union receipts. All three agreed as part of their plea to forfeit the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica; $10,567 in cash; and $11,300 in prepaid Visa gift cards.
HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.
HSI is focused on building and furthering partnerships with multiple industries to advance this national program to include retail, freight transportation, banking and other business sectors, which may be targeted and used by organized theft groups to facilitate their criminal activities, including laundering criminal proceeds, transporting or exporting stolen goods, and other crimes.
Losses resulting from organized retail crime represent a distinct risk to the United States’ economic infrastructure. Broad immigration and customs authorities enable HSI to pursue complex banking and financial fraud cases to identify, dismantle and disrupt the criminal enterprises that threaten the nation’s economy and homeland security.
Learn more about HSI’s mission to combat organized retail crime in your community on Twitter @HSIKansasCity.