Four conmen who posed as police officers and tricked people into handing over money have been sentenced to a total of more than 18 years in prison. Alberto Chivea, 25 from St Margaret’s Road, Tottenham, Constantin Tanase, 23, of no address, Stefanita Iorga, 27 from Elgin Road, Ilford and Ninel Besleaga, 30 from St Margaret’s Road, Tottenham all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal after they were caught stopping vehicles along the M20, pretending to be police offices and asking for money to be handed over.
The gang committed eight offences between 13 August 2012 and 31 October 2012 along the M20 and A20 where money was stolen totalling £25,000. They would use their vehicles to stop their targets by using police style lights and signage causing the vehicle to stop. One of the men would then produce what looked like a police identity badge and state they are police officers and need to search the vehicle for drugs. At which point the offender says that he needs to check any money in their possession to see if it’s counterfeit. They then get in the waiting vehicle and make off with the money.
A second vehicle was used as a ‘spotter’ and carry the stolen property any false number plates and lighting equipment. On one occasion they stopped a mini bus travelling along the M20 towards Dover. He asked the driver and passengers to hand over any money they had so he could check it to see if it was counterfeit. He then ran back to the waiting vehicle and made off with about £14,000. CCTV at a the junction 8 service station on the M20 helped identify the suspects and vehicles when they made off with £2,000 after telling the victim he needed to check his car for drugs.
On Wednesday, October 31 the suspect vehicle was spotted in Folkestone. Officers located the vehicle and arrested the occupants, Besleaga and Chivea and found cash. The ANPR cameras located the second vehicle heading out of Kent into Essex on the M20 and Iorga and Tanase were arrested. Iorga was jailed for five years and four months, Tanase and Besleaga for five years and Chivea to three and a half years in prison.
– DC Robert Goodban, Kent Police
The offences committed are a modern day version of the old highway man thefts.The offenders sought to prey on the vulnerabilities of foreign nationals, using false identity being that of a police officer to enable the theft to occur. I believe the level sentencing represents the serious nature of the offences committed in what is a rather unique case.’