2 arrested for selling fake gold jewelry in possible larger scam effort, Fitchburg police say | Crime

Fitchburg police arrested a man and woman at a credit union Wednesday afternoon for allegedly attempting to sell fake gold jewelry in a possible larger scam effort, authorities said Thursday.

Elisa Trandafir, 43, of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, and Inspector Szaz, 21, of Kirckwood, Washington, were booked into the Dane County Jail on tentative charges of theft by misrepresentation, the Fitchburg Police Department said. A 14-year-old traveling with the pair was released to a family member.

Police responded to the scene after receiving a call 3 p.m. Wednesday. When officers arrived, they saw the suspect vehicle drive out of the credit union. That’s when they conducted a traffic stop. 

Authorities eventually learned both Trandafir and Szaz approached the caller at a gas station earlier in the day, where they told a story of their struggle to get money and travel to Florida.

Fitchburg police did not immediately respond to a question about the location of the credit union nor the gas station.

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Trandafir and Szaz allegedly exchanged what they said was gold jewelry for food and gas purchased by the caller. After that first exchange, the pair offered to trade more jewelry for cash. That’s when the caller drove to the credit union, police said. 

Officers were later able to confirm the jewelry was not gold and had no significant value. 

The circumstances of the Fitchburg case are consistent with scams that have been reported throughout the U.S. “for many years,” police said. In such 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, authorities said. They often claim that their credit cards have either been lost or stolen, and have been known to drive rental cars and be accompanied by children. 

The scams are typically part of larger organized rings of criminals, Fitchburg police said. 

The incident remains under investigation. 


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