Fraud Squad

Thursday, 5 April 2012, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

Fraud Squad lifts the lid on the organised crime gangs making millions from cash machine crime. 

With exclusive access to The Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit, Fraud Squad shows how the gangs use a vast array of sophisticated equipment to steal customers’ bank account details. Secret cameras record pin numbers and skimmers copy account details from the magnetic strip on the bank card. Some gangs even design whole false ATM fascias. 

Head of The Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit DCI Paul Barnard says: “The criminals constantly try and evolve their technology to beat the technology the banks put in place. It’s a constant battle to try and work out where the criminal is going next” 

One nationality has a monopoly on the trade, the equipment and the rewards. In the first three months of 2011, Detectives from the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime unit identified 120 Romanians linked ATM crime. 

DCI Paul Barnard says: “The fact is 92 percent of all ATM fraud we see in this country is committed by Romanian nationals. Very, very tight communities, very tight gangs” 

The crime is highly lucrative earning the gangs well over £2 million a month and the competition is fierce. 

DC Dave Cass says: “We’ve seen teams of Eastern Europeans at a machine and another team waiting to go on it, that’s how busy they were doing it, one team would come off and another team would come on.” 

Fraud Squad trails detectives as they raid a house in Chigwell, Essex to arrest 22 year old Romanian Maxim Catana and fellow gang members Nikolajs Delvers and Daniel Anghell. Inside the house detectives discover what they describe as “a working ATM factory”. The gang had stolen bank account details for more than 4,000 British victims, potentially pooling them over £2 million. 

Paperwork reveals they had targeted ATMs across The south coast of England with military precision. Detectives only recover £2,000 in cash from the house, as the Romanian gangs use an intricate smuggling network to quickly move the millions they are making. 

DCI Paul Barnard reveals: “More and more they’re turning to the cash going out in bulk in vehicles, being carried by mules who take the money to their contacts in Romania.” 

DCS Steve Head, Head of the Economic Crime Directorate for The City of London Police, explains how the crime fuels a luxurious lifestyle for Gang bosses in Romania: “We can see quite clearly what they are doing with the money back in Romania; they are spending it on a lavish lifestyle, flash cars, flash houses. What sits behind it all is the greed, the greed of the people who are organising it, the greed of the professionals along the way who are enabling it and the greed of those people who are actually creating the technology to enable systems to be overcome, sheer criminal greed.” 

Fraud Squad films detectives as they dramatically arrest two young men who are using the Romanian gangs’ latest weapon, the cash trap. 

DS Tom Finnegan explains how the cash trap works: “It will go across the front of an ATM where the money is dispensed. The money will come out and stick to this device. They will go from one ATM to another to another…it is very lucrative for what they are doing.” 

The two arrested men, Nela Bura and Viorel Strango live in modest accommodation, hold down 9-5 jobs and show little signs of enjoying the fruits of their criminal labour. 

DCS Steve Head explains “It is important that we understand that those people are coming from very poor backgrounds often, they are being shipped over here as just another product in some ways in order to do the bidding of their criminal masters.” 

The documentary also examines the lucrative criminal trade of buying and selling stolen British bank details online and transferring them onto counterfeit cards. Detectives are filmed intercepting a parcel from Malaysia containing 2,000 high quality counterfeit credit cards. 

DCI Paul Barnard highlights the scale of the problem “It’s a huge market, it’s worth millions and millions of pounds. We’ve seen a number of websites where credit card details are sold between criminal groups. You obtain the details, you get the cards in, but then the clever bit is putting on your details from your card. We’re seeing a substantial number of cards imported from the Far East. They look spectacularly genuine, and we can’t tell the difference sometimes.” 

Fraud Squad is part of a returning documentary series made by Wild Pictures, the producers of acclaimed ITV 1 series Strangeways, Smugglers and Wormwood Scrubs. The programme is produced and directed by Will West. Tom Anstiss is the Series Producer and The Executive Producer is Paul Hamann. 

Series Producer Tom Anstiss says “ATM machines are an integral part of our daily life, like mobile phones and the internet. Many of us will know friends or family who have had their bank account details stolen, but few of us understand how it is done. The Romanian gangs are incredibly ingenious and sophisticated not only in the technology they use but in the way they operate. They are aware of police surveillance and go to extraordinary lengths to live and work under the radar. The gangs are almost Fagin like in their structure. Young Romanian men are sent to Britain tasked with stealing as many bank details as possible. Few of them see the financial rewards. They live a very basic existence in Britain. The vast majority of the money goes back to Romania.”

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