Monday, September 29, 2008

Gang jailed for credit card scam in Northampton - - 27 Sep 2008

A gang of conspirators has been jailed for a credit card scam in Northampton after being found with the bank details of more than 200 people.
Emilian Loi, 30, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail while his accomplices, 24-year-old Sebastian Lucaci and brothers Daniel and Teodor Varga, will each serve two-and-a-half-year sentences.

The four Romanians were arrested after being caught on CCTV acting suspiciously near cash machines in Harborough Road, in Kingsthorpe, in January.

Matthew Lowe, prosecuting, told Northampton Crown Court the group was at the centre of a larger conspiracy to steal bank details and create cloned credit cards.

He said: "All four of these defendants were involved, and involved much more than at the periphery, in this card skimming conspiracy.

"When police forced entry to their address they discovered a workshop where the false fascias to ATM machines were discovered, along with tools and sophisticated equipment needed to manufacture card readers."

He went on to say the men, all Romanian nationals, were caught with the details of more than 200 bank accounts and about five completed cloned credit cards when police raided their address, in West Ridge, St Davids.

John Lloyd-Jones, defending Loi, claimed the conspirators were simply using the bank details for a "dry run" to test whether or not the card reading machinery would work. He said: "Any previous fraudulent activity using the stolen details would have been reported long ago. The cards, at the time of this offence, would already have been cancelled."

He added Loi, a qualified carpenter, only manufactured the false fascias, which fit over legitimate cash machine slots, read security details from the magnetic strips on credit cards and can be attached to cameras to read PIN codes.

The court heard Teodor Varga, 34, felt pressured into carrying out the scam after becoming £35,000 in debt to criminals in London, while his brother Daniel, 30, was acting as a look-out on the night they were caught. No evidence was discovered that any of the men benefited financially from the conspiracy.

Recorder Sam Mainds, who ordered the four to be deported to Romania after their sentences had been served, said: "It is very clear to me that you were party to the manufacture of vital equipment for the taking of information from cash cards contained in ATM machines."

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