Four years for ATM fraud

A “major player” in ATM fraud who stole over €25,000 in a week and was caught after trying to avoid a garda checkpoint has been given a four year sentence by at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Yanislav Alekandrov (aged 29), a Bulgarian national who has 21 previous convictions, first aroused garda suspicions when he avoided a checkpoint and then told gardaí who searched his car that he had got five cloned cards as “a present”.

Alekandrov, of Westend Gate, Tallaght, pleaded guilty to seven counts of using cloned cards to withdraw money from automated teller machine's (ATM) across Dublin from November 27th to December 3 2007.

He also pleaded guilty to seven counts of possession of cloned cards and possession of a skimming device and a camera for recording Personal Identification Number's (PIN) .

Judge Katherine Delahunt said she believed he was a “major player” and was involved in fraud “in a fairly big way” and handed down sentences of three and four years for the various charges to run concurrently.

She rejected an application by defence counsel, Mr Ronan Kennedy BL, to suspend a portion of the sentence and said she was originally considering jailing Alekandrov for six years

Detective Garda Sean Breen told Mr Kerida Naidoo BL, prosecuting, that gardai stopped a car after it changed direction just before a garda checkpoint. The car was searched and gardai found an identity card, a Bank of Ireland PASS card in a different name and four Homebase store cards.

Alekandrov told gardai that he got the cards as a “present” from a Romanian man who told him he would be able to use them to take money from an ATM but said he had not used them.

Detective Garda Breen said Alekandrov's home was searched on December 3, 2007 and gardai recovered devices for recording PIN numbers, a bag of tools, a list of handwritten PIN's, a list of card numbers, a computer and a can of grey spray paint used to match the devices to the colour of the ATM.

Detective Garda Breen said one of the devices would be attached to the slot on the ATM and would “skim” the information held on the magnetic strip as the customer inserted their card. A second device contained a camera at the top of the machine to record the PIN as the customer entered it.

Once the devices were recovered the information could be used to create “cloned” cards to withdraw money.

Alekandrov admitted the devices were his and CCTV footage showed him and a number of other people fitting and removing the devices at a ATM at Main Street, Tallaght.

Detective Garda Breen said the total amount taken was €25,000 and he believed it may have been up to €35,000.

He agreed with Mr Kennedy that Alekandrov had been interviewed in relation to further similar matters and was cooperating with gardai.

Mr Kennedy said Alekandrov, a married father of two, had come to Ireland in 2000 “in the hope of establishing a better life but the reality has been different”.

He had entered the country on false documentation and had been refused refugee status. Counsel said Alekandrov was suffering from depression but had made an effort to find a job in Ireland.

Mr Kennedy asked the court to consider that “my client's future in this jurisdiction is very uncertain which is punishment enough” and noted Alekandrov had cooperated with gardai including giving them passwords for his computers.

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