FAIRFAX, Va. — Officials believe a scam targeting good Samaritans on the road likely spanned across jurisdictions and cultivated more victims.
Fairfax County Police recently sent a warning about a cash-for-gold robbery scheme after a man was scammed for trying to help a group of people he thought was stranded.
“We don't think that this is the only case and only victim,” Lt. James Curry of FCPD told WUSA9. “We do believe that these individuals have committed other crimes in the area, and we do believe there are suspects who work with them in a similar style.”
Police said a man driving home on I-495 stopped to assist a woman and two men who told him they were stranded and needed money to continue their travels. The woman told the man who stopped she could give him a watch and gold jewelry in exchange for cash, and convinced the man to drive her to an ATM. The two men with her followed them to the ATM in a black SUV.
The driver realized he was likely being scammed and pulled into the parking lot.
“That's when two men that were following them in the other vehicle approached him and through intimidation, got the victim into the vehicle and forced him to drive to ATMs and essentially drain his accounts,” Curry added.
FCPD is now working with other police departments to crack down on the case.
The three alleged robbers were identified as Magdalena Mazil, 39, Hagi Voinescu, 36, and Romeo Voinescu, 23, all from Baltimore, Maryland.
Officers also obtained warrants for abduction and four counts of robbery for all three individuals through further investigation. Hagi Voinescu and Mazil were issued two additional warrants, each, for preventing someone from calling 911. Romeo Voinescu received another warrant as a driver for failing to report an accident.
Baltimore City detectives arrested Hagi Voinescu and Mazil on Nov. 22, while Romeo remains on the loose.
“It really hurts my heart to know these folks are still out there,” Dana Banks, who lives in Frederick County, told WUSA9.
Banks said she almost fell for the same trick in Ellicott City in late Spring.
She remembered Hagi Voinescu waving and acting frantically while two children were in his vehicle. She was with her son, who felt something was off.
“He was speaking so fast, just really antsy and he was just really desperate but the jewelry he was trying to sell looked genuine,” she said.
Banks admitted she likely would have been scammed if she was not in a rush to drop off her son.
“Fortunately, we did not purchase but we thought it was quite bizarre,” Banks added.
Detectives believe the suspects are related to other crimes in the area. Anyone with information about this crime or who believes they were a victim of a scheme, call 703-691-2131.
Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477).
Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars if their information leads to an arrest.