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Three men will spend a total of nine years in prison for their roles in a series of thefts of credit and debit cards in Kent and across the South East.
49 year old David Moldovan from East Ham was sentenced to four years; 27 year old Georgeta Neferu was given two and a half years and 24 year old Florian Claudiu from East Ham was sentenced to 30 months.
To commit their crimes they made a false front that could be put over the card slot on the ATM.
A mobile phone camera was attached above the keypad, hidden inside a case painted in the colour of the ATM. A small hole in it enabled the camera to capture and record the ATM user as they entered their PIN. The false front prevented the return of the card. The ATM user would think their card had been ‘swallowed’ by the machine and leave at which point the conspirators would remove the equipment placed on the machine and take the trapped card.
Using the PIN recorded by the camera the cards could be used to withdraw cash from any other machine, often just before and just after midnight to take the maximum cash allowed for two days.
Mr Moldovan, Ms Neferu and Mr Claudiu were arrested in Tonbridge High Street on 16 October after they were seen acting suspiciously by CCTV operators.
They had a list of addresses of banks across the South East, mobile phone cameras painted in ATM colours, plastic devices designed to look like card slots, glue and double-sided sticky tape. When officers searched Mr Moldovan’s home they found what was described in court as ‘a small factory producing the equipment needed to successfully steal credit cards and to record their PIN numbers.’
The officer leading the investigation, Detective Constable Richard Higham, said:
"These people were members of a group responsible for amassing a large amount of money from other people’s bank accounts. They paid no regard to the inconvenience, and indeed distress, caused to people who had their cards taken.
"The ease with which they managed to take some people’s cards is a reminder to us all to follow simple steps and check there is nothing untoward with a cash machine before using it."