Sri Lankan gang jailed after tampering with cash machines in Gloucestershire

UK-flagA gang of men have been jailed after conspiring to attack cash points across Gloucestershire to steal bank cards and money from members of the public.

The Sri Lankans targeted 13 ATMs in Cheltenham and Gloucester, fitting them with card trapping devices, which would see bank cards lost and personal details stolen.

Basheer Ebrahim, Ashok Balasubramanian and Thanfavel Vilvanadham all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal, conspiracy to defraud and possession of articles for use in connection with fraud between July 25, 2013 and September 24 last year.

Gloucester Crown Court heard the Tamils were stopped by police on the M25 in a Nissan Micra belonging to Kusalakumar Sithambarapillai and a search revealed card trapping devices, USB cables and card slots.

Prosecutor Anna Midgley told the court members of the public approached the cash machines and some walked away without their cards, which had been trapped.

She said the gang would then return to take the cards.

A total of £3,890 in cash was stolen during the scam, the court heard.

Ebrahim, 21, of South End Road in Croydon, Surrey, was found with a list of postcodes in his pocket, with several of them directing to roads in Gloucestershire where the bank machines were being tampered with.

The court heard Balasubramanian, 22, also of South End Road in Croydon, had just been released from jail for a similar offence before he was caught up in the scam.

He was jailed for 16 months.

Ebrahim and Vilvanadham, 50, also of South End Road in Croydon, who both denied being the ring leaders in the case, were each jailed for one year.

Cash points in Bristol Road in Gloucester, Bath Road in Cheltenham and at Gallagher Retail Park, also in the spa town, were among those targeted by the men.

Judge Jamie Tabor QC said this type of crime was becoming more prevalent in the county.

He told the men: “The three of you were involved in an agreement to attack ATM cash machine over a period of two months.

“The attack of ATM machines by a group of men is becoming an increasing problem in Gloucestershire of which I have personal knowledge.

“These ATMs are essential to the smooth running of commerce.

“The public must have access to these machines so they can go about their daily business. They must be confident their personal information remains private and the machines dispense what they require.”

The gang’s driver on two occasions, Sithambarapillai, aged 48, of Barnard Gardens in Hayes, Middlesex, was jailed for four-and-a-half months after admitting conspiring to commit fraud.

After the hearing, Gloucestershire police’s Chief Inspector Steve Gillett said: “Crimes of this nature greatly affect their victims. Even though the bank may reimburse them, it is shocking to see hundreds of pounds gone from your account and very unpleasant to feel you have been watched while using a cashpoint.

“As this case shows, we will deal with all such offences robustly. These criminals follow others imprisoned last year so the message is clear: If you do this here you too can expect to be put before the courts and are likely to go to prison.”

 

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