‘False front’ ATM thieves targeted Trinity Leeds shoppers

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TWO cash machine fraudsters have been jailed after an undercover crackdown on ‘false front’ card trapping devices placed in the Trinity Leeds area.

Leeds Crown Court heard that as a result of concerns, security officers at the shopping centre had installed a camera to watch the Lloyds ATM in Albion Street.

On January 13, a man was seen removing what appeared to be a card trap device.

That man is now actively being sought by the police after absconding. He was in company with Robert Papa and the two were seen to walk towards Boar Lane where they approached another cash machine outside Tesco Express.

Michael Greenhalgh, prosecuting, told the court that when a CCTV operator later reviewed the footage, it was discovered they were withdrawing £80 in cash using a card retained in the Lloyds ATM.

Footage showed the two men at the machine apparently installing a camera as well as the card device. Minutes later a woman used the machine, found her card was retained and left.

The men had then returned for her card and used it within minutes. The next day, a security officer found a card trap device attached, consisting of a piece of plastic with magnets attached. The court was told such devices could retain the card and, with a camera recording the customer’s PIN number or one of the criminals “shoulder surfing” watching the number being entered, they could then withdraw money.

Footage was reviewed and of the two men seen attaching it, one was spotted in the area and arrested. He is the man who absconded, but when his address was searched a list of postcodes relating to ATMs in Wakefield and Sheffield was recovered.

Mr Greenhalgh said it was following this that the police undercover operation was mounted. On February 5, one of the officers then put his card in a cash machine and found it was retained. Both the accused had been seen in the vicinity.

Robert Papa, 27 of Scott Hall Terrace, Potternewton, admitted one charge of theft and two of attempted theft and was jailed for 15 months. Alin Marian Neacsu, 33, of the same address, admitted one attempted theft and was jailed for 10 months.

Sentencing the pair, the Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC, said: “The impact of this type of fraud is well known. It causes great inconvenience to individuals whose cards are lost and it causes huge loss to banks.”

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