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Romanian 'Fake cop' stole cash from tourists after being bailed after arrest for same offence

A MAN who was bailed after he posed as a police officer to steal cash from tourists committed the same crime just weeks later, a court heard.

Costel Musat, 57, from Gainsbury Drive, Dunstable, approached a couple on September 24 last year with two other men.

They were dressed as police and showed a fake warrant card before asking to search them for money.

Musat, who had a Romanian interpreter in court, took US dollars and Japanese Yen totalling £7,500, from the woman before she became suspicious and grabbed it back.

After a struggle he fled empty handed and was detained by a member of the public until police arrived, Isleworth Crown Court heard today.

The court heard Musat gave a prepared statement denying any wrongdoing and claiming it was a case of mistaken identity, although through his interpreter he denied making any statement following the arrest.

He was released on police bail pending further enquiries.

The court heard that on November 11 last year there was a similar incident involving three men dressed as police and a woman visiting from Singapore in Courtfield Gardens, South Kensington.

Grant Vanstone, prosecuting, said: "Ms Haw Puay Chan was told she was being detained for a search. She produced cash (£2,000) and Mr Musat grabbed the cash from Miss Chan and made off on foot.

"They chased him shouting 'thief'."

A male member of the public stopped Mr Musat and detained him until police arrived. Mr Musat threw something while running, believed to be a fake police badge. It later emerged he was on bail for an identical offence on September 24."

He made no comment during interview

He was charged with impersonating a police officer and fraud by false representation in connection with the September incident.

For the November incident he was charged with theft and impersonating a police officer.

He pleaded guilty to all four offences on November 12 at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

Mr Vanstone said he had a high culpability and played a leading role in the group that was sophisticated by using false ID with significant planning to target vulnerable victims.

A victim impact statement read to the court from Miss Chan said the incident left her suspicious of strangers and uncomfortable walking in the street.

She felt she was targeted because she was a tourist and a woman

The court heard Musat had one previous drink driving conviction in the UK from May last year.

Michael Stradling, defending, said significant business debts had led to the offending and he had been influenced by others.

At an earlier Croydon Magistrates' Court hearing on November 22 Musat's defence lawyer Tim Bittlestone said the offending happened over a "mad six-week period."

He said: "(Musat) had taken out a £50,000 loan and repayment was required in connection with his family and business. He has quite serious health issues in relation to a heart stent fitted two years ago. He is on medication which could be restricted in a custodial setting.

"This happened over a mad six week period to a man nearing retirement with a stable family and all the money was recovered so he has not benefited."

Musat was jailed for a total of 14 months for all the offences with a £187 victim surcharge.


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