Four members of a Romanian gang who targeted more than 60,000 bank customers in a £16million fraud face jail today.
The criminals fitted spy cameras to the sides of bank machines all over Britain so they could take down PIN numbers and used miniature skimming devices to snatch card details.
Gang members operated from 'factories' across north London and worked around the clock working out ingenious ways to fleece bank customers.
They fitted spy cameras to the side of cash machines, rather than the top panel as favoured by their predecessors, to get a better view of the keypad so they could get the PIN accurately.
+5Facing jail: Florin Ioan Silaghi, 30, Vasile Daniel Pop, 30, Ovidiu Metac, 27 and Adriana Alexandra Turc, 25, (top left to bottom right) ran a gang who targeted more than 60,000 bank customers in a £16million fraud
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The gang even designed a skimming device disguised as a cigarette packet to fool unsuspecting bank users.
They got away with more than £160,000 - with large sums syphoned off to Italy, Columbia, Romania, and Panama - and had bogus cards with a street value of £16million, detectives say.
The fraud ring was eventually smashed in December last year unit by the combined might of the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) - the police sponsored by the banking industry - and the Romanian National Police.
Florin Ioan Silaghi, 30, Vasile Daniel Pop, 30, Ovidiu Metac, 27 and Adriana Alexandra Turc, 25, will be sentenced at the Old Bailey for fraud, money laundering, and possessing false documents.
'It's a conspiracy to dishonestly represent they are the authorised users of bank accounts in an attempt to obtain financial gain.'
She said 60,559 bank cards had been compromised by the gang, according to computers seized by detectives, including 36,000 in the UK alone.
Nearly 1,000 bank accounts had been raided with £161,607 stolen in total before the gang were stopped on December 11 last year.
+5Sophisticated fraud: By placing cameras and skimming equipment on cashpoints they managed to get hold of the details of more than 60,000 bank customers and cloned cards with a value of £16m
Raids on Silaghi and Pop's homes uncovered factories dubbed by police as 'fraudster's utopias' including 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.
Ms Pattison said Silaghi had a laptop containing 930 bank card records which had been downloaded from a skimming device.
'There was what looked like a cigarette packet, but inside it contained an ATM skimming device that was logged into the computer and experts found it worked', she said.
At the home Metac shared with his girlfriend Turc, cops found more than 5,000 bank records on a computer, as well as a USB stick with 13 hours of footage from a cash point recording PIN numbers.
The premises we raided really were a fraudster's utopia, with a dizzying array of machines and gadgets designed to commit serious fraud
- DI Sarah Ward, who led the investigation 'Mr Pop's fingerprints were recovered from the side panel, supporting the contention he was involved in manufacturing these devices', said Ms Pattison.
'He played a crucial role in the conspiracy, throughout the conspiracy - his room was being used like Mr Silaghi's, as a make-shift factory.
'His role was significant, as without him others would have been substantially disadvantaged.'
Pop and Turc were between them linked to more than £19,000 of money transfers to and from foreign countries, including a string of transactions to Panama.
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.'
Romanian gangs are thought to be behind more than 90 per cent of cashpoint thefts in this country.
Bank customers are advised to partially cover the keypad when withdrawing cash.
The sentencing hearing continues today with jail sentences for all four expected to be handed down tomorrow morning.
Silaghi and Metac, of Kenton Lane, Kenton, northwest London, Turc, of Welldon Crescent, Harrow, northwest London and Pop, of Kenmore Road, Kenton, northwest London, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
Silaghi also admitted possessing criminal property, transferring data, and possessing a false ID document.
Metac also admitted possessing criminal property, two counts of possessing an article for use in fraud, and possession of false ID documents.
Turc also admitted possessing criminal property, transferring criminal property, and acquiring criminal property.
Pop also admitted possession of an article for use in fraud and transferring criminal property.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2729928/Romanian-Crime-gang-targeted-60-000-bank-customers-16million-fraud-stealing-pin-numbers-ATMs-face-jail.html#ixzz3AxWWsUGy
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