11 October 2005 — 9:23pm
Moldovan police are searching for a con artist using hypnotism to steal tens of thousands of dollars from unwitting bank tellers, the Infotag news agency reported on Monday.
The suspect, identified as Vladimir Kozak, 49, is believed to have taken more than $39,000 from bank employees unable to resist his powers, police said.
Kozak's biggest haul reportedly took place at the Chisinau-headquartered Universalbank last week, where law enforcers believe he convinced a bank teller to give him $12,000.
The victim later told police Kozak's technique was to start a friendly conversation, establish eye contact, and then put his target in a hypnotic state.
Once hypnotised, the teller agreed to hand over all the cash in her till.
Kozak has successfully targeted at least five other cashiers, the report said.
Chisinau police had placed a wanted poster with Kozak's picture in all major city banks, and had advised bank staff to call for security if he entered the premises.
Police, however, were warning bank security personnel to avoid attempts to detain him because of his possible accomplices, and because of his potential ability to defend himself by hypnotism.
Moldova, a former Soviet republic, is Europe's poorest country. Automated banking is still in its infancy there.