Conmen jailed after Edinburgh fake police officer scam

Regent Road, Edinburgh
Regent Road, Edinburgh

TWO Romanian conmen who ripped off tourists by posing as police officers have been jailed.

Stefan Lautara and Constaintin Ionita stole cash from a couple after carrying out their stop and search scam in Edinburgh city centre earlier this year.

Sheriff Thomas Welsh QC told the men they had carried out a “despicable” crime and sentenced them both to eight months in prison.

Ionita pretended to be a lost Italian tourist and asked Brazilian couple, Kabayai Patino and Marta Santos, to take his picture in Regent Road.

Lautara, 36, then approached and told them he was a police officer and he needed to search their belongings for drugs and stole 1,000 Euros in cash.

Ionita, 41, struck a second time when he stole £2,500 from Chinese holidaymaker Guoping Sun in Glasgow’s Berkeley Street.

Lautara and Ionita were identified after they were spotted getting into the car they had previously entered the UK in. Ms Santos also later discovered she had captured an image of one of the men while she took snaps of Edinburgh.

Both Romanian men pleaded guilty to the theft offences when they appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Tuesday. Ionita also admitted transferring the stolen cash back to his partner in Romania from a newsagents in Dalry, on July 24 this year.

The court was told both men had been jailed for committing similar offences across Europe.

Fiscal depute Ms Warner told the court that police in both Edinburgh and Glasgow then “put the two matters together” and launched a manhunt for the fake police officers.

The fiscal added the South American victims “feared for their safety” and left the area after the incident and they subsequently contacted the police to inform them of the theft.

Both men will be deported from the UK to Romania after their release from custody.