Harrow fraudsters who stole £20,000 by rigging cash machines with special device
Two men from West London who targeted ATM cash machines have been sentenced to a combined total of more than four years in prison. Sebastian Vizir, 35, and Lucian Martinica, 29 – both from Harrow – pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal, following a successful investigation by the dedicated card and payment crime unit.
The fraudsters used a device known as a ‘cash trap’ to steal funds from countless cash machines across England between December 2021 and February 2022. The device was inserted into a cash machine’s dispenser, meaning that when unsuspecting members of the public tried to withdraw money, the notes were trapped inside.
The criminals would then return to the ATM and retrieve the device and the money. The pair targeted ATMs at locations across north and West London, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey and Northampton, stealing over £20,000 in cash and causing £60,000 worth of damage to the machines when retrieving their victims’ money.
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The fraud was spotted by bank staff and referred for an investigation. CCTV evidence from the ATMs identified Vizir and Martinica at a series of cash trapping ATM incidents, nailing them down as potential suspects.
Officers from the unit arrested them both while they were trying to steal money from a supermarket ATM in St Albans on February 1, 2021. A search of one of their home addresses uncovered a number of the devices in various states of preparation, along with the raw material and tools to make the cash traps. Vizir and Martinica each received a custodial sentence of two years and three months for committing conspiracy to steal.
Detective Chief Inspector Gary Robinson said: “We are working tirelessly with the banking and finance industry to disrupt the organised criminal gangs behind fraud and protect the public. This sentencing is a warning to those who believe they can benefit financially from fraud that they will be caught and punished.”
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