Jail for Romanian fraudsters who stole 60,000 PIN numbers using spy cameras on ATM machines

A gang of Romanian fraudsters who stole the PIN numbers from more than 60,000 people by using spy cameras on ATM machines have been jailed today.

Florin Silaghi, 30, of Kenton Lane, Kenton, and Vasile Pop, of Kenmore Road, Kenton, headed up the four-strong gang believed to have stolen an estimated £16 million-worth of bank card details in the sophisticated scam.

The Old Bailey heard the gang were involved in three stages of fraud - scamming bank card data from ATMs, downloading it on to a computer and then copying the details on to counterfeit plastic cards.

Money was then transferred abroad to Panama, Romania, Italy and Colombia using MoneyGram and Western Union.

Prosecutor Catherine Pattison said 953 bank accounts had been compromised and a total of £161,607.47 was taken, although the potential loss was far greater.

When police raided the gang’s ‘factory’ in Harrow last December, they seized an array of gadgets including cards traps, cloned cards and spy cameras.

As officers investigated this case, evidence of a method never seen before in the UK to steal card details came to light - spy cameras fitted to the side panel of cash machines, rather than the top panel.

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This method allowed fraudsters a better view of people’s PIN numbers when the keypad is only partially covered by the customer’s hand.

According to a spokesman for the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU), the cards recovered had a street value of £16 million - based on the amount stolen on average from a compromised card.

Silaghi was jailed for 64 months, Pop was handed 61 months, Ovidiu Metac, 25, and his partner Adriana Turc, 27, both from Harrow, were jailed for 43 months and 21 months respectively.

They all pleaded guilty at earlier hearings to conspiracy to defraud between January 1, 2012 and December 11, 2013, and various other related offences.

Detective Inspector 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”.