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Daily Telegraph: ‘Card-skimming’ gang targets train stations

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EXTRACT: In 2006, Shell suspended chip-and-pin payments at 600 petrol stations after £1 million vanished from accounts of customers whose card details are thought to have been copied.

By Patrick Sawer
Last Updated: 2:40am GMT 16/03/2008

A gang that used advanced technology to steal the credit card details of commuters buying tickets at railway station machines has been stopped.

The Romanian gang used a miniature camera and a magnetic strip reader to record pin numbers and card details, which were destined to be used to create fake cards.
  
The fraud may have netted hundreds of thousands of pounds. Jailing Ion Tanese, 28, and Ioan Filip, 36, at Southwark Crown Court in London, Judge Andrew Goymer said the operation represented “huge potential for loss” to unsuspecting travellers.

The case highlights a rapidly emerging trend among eastern European gangs, which once targeted cash machines at banks, to shift their focus to ticket machines at stations.

Counterfeit card fraud saw £144.3 million stolen from British accounts last year, up 46 per cent on 2006. The bulk of the loss – £113 million – came through foreign withdrawals.

At Paddington Underground station in London one morning last month, a British Transport Police officer saw that an electronic card-reading device, known as a “skimmer”, had been attached to the card slot of a ticket machine, and a tiny camera had been fixed above the number pad. CCTV showed that a few hours earlier, as people queued behind them, Tanese and Filip had used double-sided tape to attach the devices.

The details would have been passed to a third party to create fake cards but when Tanese and Filip returned to remove the devices, police moved in.

Earlier this month, the pair admitted possessing skimming equipment with intent to commit fraud. Tanese, who had previously been deported from Britain, was jailed for a year and Filip for six months. The judge said he could not recommend deportation as Romania was now in the EU and their sentences were under two years.

Forensic scientists are examining the skimmer to trace how many cards were copied. Experts say an average of £850 is stolen for every card copied.

Last year police found 27 devices on London Underground ticket machines alone. Gangs also go for cash machines at banks and chip-and-pin readers in shops and petrol stations.

Catalin Sandulachi, a 25-year-old Romanian, was jailed last November after he was caught fitting a skimmer to a cash machine at Finchley Road Underground station.

In 2006, Shell suspended chip-and-pin payments at 600 petrol stations after £1 million vanished from accounts of customers whose card details are thought to have been copied.
 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/03/16/ncards116.xml

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