The Secret Service is investigating a Bellevue man’s involvement with a possible skimming plot originating in his home country in the Republic of Moldova and later with the discovery of multiple gift cards at his home believed to have been used to encode stolen credit card information.
A package destined for Burien was halted at a Moldovan post office in September and found to contain a skimmer ( a device used to obtain credit card information to produce counterfeit cards), a USB device, a rectangle-shaped device fitted with a camera and a power supply, according to an affidavit for search warrant filed in King County Superior Court. The Secret Service allowed the package to be delivered to the intended recipient as part of its investigation.
According to the affidavit, the package was delivered by a postal inspector and Secret Service agent to the Burien man at the Bellevue Library near where the man works at the Danube Bistro. The man told the agent he agreed to receive the package from a friend, a 23-year-old Moldovan native he used to work with at the bistro who now drives trucks for a living.
The Burien man was given the package back with the skimming devices removed in order to execute a controlled delivery to the Bellevue man, later identified as Ion Cirlig. The package was delivered to Cirlig on Oct. 8, at which point he was surveilled back to his apartment on 108th Avenue Northeast and questioned.
Cirlig claimed he was picking up the package for a former roommate and consented to a search of his apartment, which uncovered more than 30 Visa gift cards, cellular phones and a flash card in a shoe box inside a suitcase in his closet, according to the affidavit. The Bellevue man also produced five gift cards concealed in a white plastic glove from his pocket during the search.
The Secret Service was granted the warrant to search SIM and micro SD cards found at Cirlig’s residence, along with other electronic devices to uncover evidence of financial fraud, identity theft, unlawful factoring of transactions and criminal conspiracy.