Cash machine scammers jailed

A gang of criminals, who found a new way to take your money from cash machines, has been jailed.

They could take your money and all you’d be left with was a sense of bafflement, but after a three-month investigation the five-person “cash claw” gang have now been jailed for a total of 71 months.

Their plan was ingenious. While we’ve all become aware of the risk of skimming, card cloning, people hovering over your shoulder or using miniature cameras to record your PIN, this gang cut out the middle man.

They just wanted the cash, not the card details, so that’s what they targeted.

The “cash claw” device was fitted into the ATM itself, diverting money that was being dispensed. You’d enter your PIN, ask for your money, and then nothing would arrive.

If you were unlucky, you’d try again with the same lack of effect, assuming something was wrong with the cash machine.

Later, the gang would return to the modified machine and retrieve all the money that was meant to have gone to customers.

But no more. Adrian Niculita, 23, Andrei Chioran, 28, Iancu Oleacu, 26, Ciprian Dumitru, 29, and Violeta Alecu, 23, were all found guilty of Conspiracy to Steal and Possession of Articles Used to Commit Theft, and were sentenced to more than five years in prison at the Old Bailey earlier this month.

“Putting this gang behind bars will undoubtedly lead to a significant decrease in this type of crime, and should help drive down cash machine crime losses, which fell by three per cent in the first half of this year,” said DC Martin Godsave, from the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) and the man leading the investigation.

The three-month investigation saw officers from the DCPCU team up with bank staff to identify the gang by analysing crime patterns and establishing routes the organised criminal networks were using.

So next time a cash machine doesn’t pay out when it should, don’t write it off to experience or simply try again – make sure you report it to ensure no one else gets caught out by a cash claw.