East Ham fraudster jailed after card scamming gang busted
PUBLISHED: 16:11 20 December 2016 | UPDATED: 16:13 20 December 2016
A fraudster who built devices to scam Tube passengers was sentenced yesterday to four-and-a-half years behind bars.
Dumitru Mihaila, of Caledon Road, East Ham, was part of an organised gang of five who built and distributed skimming devices to steal money from ticket machines and cash points on the London Underground and across the world.
The 41-year-old was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud financial institutions and one count of conspiracy to make and supply articles for use in fraud between April 2015 and February this year. He was sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court to four-and-a-half years in prison for each offence, to be served concurrently.
The gang was busted by British Transport Police (BTP) after the two-year long Operation Academy when intelligence led officers to associate Ionel Baluta’s home in Colchester, where he was operating the business from a shed in the garden.
The skimming devices that the gang produced were plugged into ticket and ATM machines to record the card details of whoever used the machine. They obtained bank card data from cards used at banks, travel terminals, London Underground stations and petrol pumps.
Investigating officer, Det Con Terry Botten from BTP’s organised crime team, said it was a “professional organised criminal network” that was living off “criminal proceeds stolen from people around the world”.
“The reality is their activity can and does have a marked impact on private individuals and financial establishments.
“This has been a lengthy investigation to unpick the group’s set-up and identify those involved, and I am pleased that they have now been sentenced and will serve prison sentences for their crimes.”
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