OCEAN CITY — An Ocean City restaurant server and Romanian national was charged last week with theft after scheming to steal money from guests through various scams and ultimately her employer.
Last Thursday, an Ocean City police officer responded to the Parched Pelican to investigate a reported theft scheme. The officer met with the restaurant’s general manager, who advised a server identified as Roxana Calugaru, 24, of Ocean City, had been stealing money from customers and the restaurant using several different schemes between July 13 and Aug. 28.
The manager told police he began investigating Calugaru’s activities in the restaurant’s computerized billing system and found that she had been altering the tips on credit card transactions and making unauthorized charges on customer credit cards. The charges Calugaru allegedly made on credit cards were ultimately refunded to the customers’ accounts by the Parched Pelican, making the restaurant the ultimate victim in the alleged scam.
The manager told police each server is required to complete a server report at the end of each shift, which shows the employee’s cash sales and credit card sales. In some cases, the employee owes money to the restaurant because his or her cash sales exceeded credit card tips. In other cases, the restaurant pays money back to the employee because his or her credit card tips exceed cash sales.
The investigation revealed Caligaru was allegedly printing her server report at some point during her shift before she was finishing working for the day. If she did not have any more credit card transactions through the rest of her shift, that was the report Caligaru was submitting at the end. If she had only cash transactions after printing the mid-shift report, she was allegedly pocketing the money. The manager discovered that scheme after comparing the restaurant’s computer billing system with orders placed by the server. In one instance, Caligaru allegedly used that scheme to swipe $280.34 and in another case used the scheme to steal a $46.59 cash transaction.
That was only part of Caligaru’s alleged theft scheme while employed at the restaurant. In another scheme, she would frequently leave a credit card transaction open in the computer after the guests had left and wait for another table to pay her in cash. Caligaru then allegedly applied that transaction to the earlier credit card transaction she had left open, pocketing the cash.
That scam was revealed when the manager compared the final charges on a credit card transaction to the restaurant’s computer billing system, which was easily detectable, according to police reports. Caligaru allegedly carried out that scheme at least a dozen times during the summer with extra charges on credit cards ranging from as low as $10 to as his as $80. In other cases, Caligaru simply altered the credit card tips, entering a larger amount than the guest had filled out on the credit card slip.
Last week, the investigating OCPD officer met with Calugaru at a different restaurant where he was conducting a similar investigation. Calugaru agreed to speak with the officer after being read her rights and the officer determined she was fluent in English. According to police reports, Calugaru told the officer she was a Romanian citizen in Ocean City for the summer on a student visa, which is set to expire on Sept. 30. Calugaru explained she was scheduled to fly back to her native Romania on Oct. 10.
Based on the evidence, Calugaru was arrested and charged with felony theft under $1,000 and theft scheme under $1,000. Calugaru was later released after posting a $5,000 bond. The latest arrest was not Calugaru’s first for similar schemes. In the summer of 2015, she was charged with theft scheme from $1,000 to under $10,000 and was later fined $200 after pleading guilty in that case.