Incident Type: Scam/Theft Arrest
Incident Date: 5/11/22
Release Date: 5/12/22
Incident number: FP22-8811
Arrested: Elisa Trandafir, 43, of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey – Theft by Misrepresentation
Inspector Szaz, 21, of Kirkwood, Washington – Theft by Misrepresentation
Prepared By: Lt. Edward Hartwick
Two people were arrested in Fitchburg Wednesday afternoon for their involvement in a scam involving fake gold jewelry. Around 3:00 p.m. Wednesday, a 911 caller reported they were at a local credit union with two people trying to sell fake gold jewelry. Responding officers saw the suspect vehicle drive out of the credit union and conducted a traffic stop.
Officers learned the pair had approached the caller at a gas station earlier, where they told a story of their struggle to get money for travel to Florida. The suspects exchanged what they said was gold jewelry for food and gas purchased by the victim. Following the first exchange, the duo offered to exchange more jewelry for cash, and the victim drove to the credit union, where police were summoned. Officers confirmed the jewelry was not gold and had no significant value.
Elisa Trandafir, 43, of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, and Inspector Szaz, 21, of Kirkwood, Washington, were booked into the Dane County Jail on tentative charges of theft by misrepresentation. A 14-year-old traveling with the suspects was released to a family member. The investigation into this incident remains open.
The circumstances of this case are consistent with scams that have been reported throughout the United States for many years. In these scenarios, victims are approached by scammers at gas stations or flagged down on the side of the road. The scammers often share they are from a foreign country and either don’t have credit cards, recently lost them, or had them stolen. They typically report they are traveling a long distance and need cash. In return for money, they provide fake gold jewelry that they say is worth hundreds of dollars. Scammers in these situations are often driving a rental car and in many cases, are accompanied by children. Reports from other areas of the country indicate the scams are part of larger organized rings of criminals.
Avoiding scams begins with awareness and trusting your instincts. If a situation seems odd or “off”, the safest choice is always to say no and walk away. If you have safety or welfare concerns or believe a scam is involved, it is always best to contact the police and report the situation.