ATM card skimming gang jailed after theft from McAleese


AN ATM skimming gang, some of whom targeted the President’s husband, has been jailed at Dublin Circuit Court.

Martin McAleese had his ATM card skimmed by some of the gang, which later created a copy of his card and used it to withdraw €5,000 from his account.

Other members of the Romanian group were also found with advanced skimming equipment, including a laptop containing 1,900 credit card numbers and footage of people entering their pin numbers into ATMs.

George Cioara (27), Vasile Martin (36), Bogdan Scantei (27), Vlad Condriuc (25) and Adrian Morosan (19), all of no fixed abode, and Costel Asimioanei (28) of Dara Court, Celbridge, Kildare, received sentences ranging from 16 months to 10 years.

Judge Martin Nolan ordered all except Scantei to leave the country upon release and not return for 10 years. Another man has elected for trial on the charges. An eighth accused is on the run.

Det Garda Alan Murphy told prosecuting counsel Colm O’Briain that Dr McAleese reported to gardaí that €5,000 was missing from his bank account. An investigation was launched and CCTV footage from the Ulster Bank in Terenure showed Vasile Martin installing a device on the door of the bank lobby at 12.45pm on December 13th, 2009. Asimioanei was monitored placing a miniature camera on the ATM inside the lobby a few minutes later.

Det Garda Murphy explained that customers have to swipe their card to get into the lobby and that Martin placed a skimming device over the swipe to record the details of Dr McAleese’s card. The camera was then used to record the pin being entered.

A short time later, Dr McAleese’s card was used by an authorised person at the bank and at 2pm two of the group came in and removed the devices.

Over the next two months regular withdrawals were made from Dr McAleese’s account at various locations around Dublin and Meath. The total loss amounted to €5,000. Det Garda Murphy said the bank has reimbursed the victim but was itself out of pocket.

On February 11th, 2010, Morosan was spotted in the same bank in Terenure by a staff member who thought he looked suspicious. After Morosan left, a camera and skimming device were found on the door and ATM. A fingerprint was taken from the adhesive on the back of the camera and this was matched to Morosan.

By February 26th, 2010, gardaí had put Asimioanei under surveillance and observed him driving to the same bank and installing a camera on the ATM. A short time later Scantei was seen entering the bank and removing the device.

Both men were arrested near by and the equipment was found hidden in a hedge. In interview they denied knowledge of the devices and knowing each other.