LOCAL — 21 August 2014

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A Harrow gang who stole the card details of 36,000 people across the UK were today sentenced to a total of 15 years jail time at the Old Bailey.

The Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit, the police unit sponsored by the banking industry, raided properties across north London in December of last year after assistance from the Romanian National Police.

They found a ‘fraudster’s utopia’ in dedicated factories that manufactured a wide array of equipment designed to steal card details of ATM users.

The officers found evidence of a method never seen before in the UK with a new spy camera that fits to the side panel of cash machines rather than the top panel, allowing fraudsters a better view of people’s PIN numbers when the keypad is only partially covered by the customer’s hand.

Criminals that target cash machines tend to focus on one method of deception but this particular gang used many different techniques such as card skimmers, cards traps, cloned cards and spy cameras.

Many of the cards found had the number of the stolen PIN written in black marker pen on the back for easy use by the criminals. The cards recovered had a street value of £16m.

Florin Ioan Silaghi, 30, Vasile Daniel Pop, 30, Ovidiu Metac, 27 and Adriana Alexandra Turc, 25 – all Harrow, Middlesex – were sentenced respectively to five years and four months, five years and one month, three years and seven months, and one year and nine months.

DI Sarah Ward, who led the investigation for the DCPCU, said:“We are delighted that with these arrests and convictions we have been able to completely dismantle a criminal organisation that was stealing millions from people’s bank accounts.

“The premises we raided really were a fraudster’s utopia, with a dizzying array of machines and gadgets designed to commit serious fraud.

“These convictions send out a strong message to would-be fraudsters but there is also a word of caution for customers – always cover your PIN closely with your hand when using a cash machine to beat the criminals”.

Virgil Spiridon, Director of the Organized Crime Department at the Romanian National Police commented: “Close co-operation between the DCPCU and our own officers played a key part in successfully securing these convictions.

“We were pleased to bring our own unique insights and expertise to the case. It was an excellent example of law enforcement agencies from different countries working together to ensure fraudsters’ activities are brought to a halt and their crimes are punished”.

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