ATM bandits to face court

TWO Romanian tourists who ripped off close to $22,000 from unsuspecting shoppers in the Coffs Harbour and Clarence areas will face court again today.

Margareta Dobrica, 34, and her boyfriend Nicu Lixandru, 26, appeared separately but briefly in court in Grafton last week to face a total of 46 charges.

They were each charged with 16 counts of obtaining money by deception of amounts of less than $2000, five counts of larceny for amounts under $2000, one count each of dealing with property suspected of being the proceeds of crime and one count each of stealing from a person.

The offences are alleged to have occurred between March 6 and March 24 this year and involved victims from the Coffs Harbour, Grafton and Yamba areas.

It is alleged that Dobrica and Lixandru would stand close to women as they used automatic teller machines or Eftpos facilities at stores and watch as they withdrew money or paid for items. It was alleged they would then follow them and one would distract the person while the other stole their card.

It was alleged they would later use the card to make withdrawals from the cardholders' accounts.

Police evidence presented to the court said Lixandru, Dobrica and a third person, whose whereabouts were unknown, arrived in Australia on February 20 this year on three month tourist visas.

Police said they had set up a task force to investigate the alleged crimes and at 4.35pm on March 27 they saw a car they were seeking heading over the Grafton Bridge. They were arrested without incident.

It is alleged that Dobrica and Lixandru have each transferred $15,000 into Romanian bank accounts since their arrival in Australia.

Both were remanded in custody to appear in court again on April 6.

No pleas have been entered.

An interpreter is to be called to court to assist with translation.

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