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Card fraud gang sentenced to 15 years

Four criminals were today sentenced for a total of 15 years at Southwark Crown Court for their involvement in a series of card frauds that took place in the south of England during 2009.

Theogenes de Montford received four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment; and Rajakumar Thevathasan, Usman Mahmood and Rashid Abdi Hassan each received three-and-a-half years.

Their scam involved tampering with chip and PIN devices in various petrol stations in order to copy the electronic data from customers’ credit and debit cards. The criminals then used this data to make fake magnetic stripe cards that could be used fraudulently overseas in countries yet to introduce chip and PIN.

An investigation by officers from the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) – the unique bank-sponsored police squad – led to the arrest of the four suspects. As a result, de Montford pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Defraud and Conspiring to Possess Articles for Use in Fraud and, after a two-week trial, Thevathasan, Mahmood and Hassan were also found guilty of Conspiracy to Defraud.

Detective Chief Inspector John Osibote, who leads the DCPCU, said:

“This is another resounding success for the DCPCU. As a result of this operation, the Unit has prevented a significant amount of card fraud from taking place. We have worked closely with both the banking and retail sector on this investigation, and together we are sending a very clear message that those responsible for these types of fraud will be caught and prosecuted.”

The DCPCU was established in April 2002 and, over the past eight years, it has prevented an estimated £340 million of card and cheque fraud losses, which means on average it has saved over £3.5 million of losses per month.

Interviews with DCI John Osibote, head of the DCPCU, are available on request.

ENDS

For further information contact:

T: Mark Bowerman 020 3217 8251/07799 627256 or Michelle Whiteman 020 3217 8316

Notes to editors:

1. The Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) is a squad of specialist police officers and civilian staff set up in April 2002 to tackle the organised gangs responsible for much of the UK's card and cheque fraud. It is fully sponsored by the banking industry to the tune of approximately £5 million per year. The Unit comprises 20 officers seconded from the Metropolitan and City of London police forces who work alongside a team of banking industry fraud investigators.

2. Credit and debit card fraud losses in 2009 fell by 28% to total £440.3 million.

3. Financial Fraud Action UK is the umbrella under which the financial services industry co-ordinates its activity on fraud prevention, presenting a united front against financial fraud and its effects. Financial Fraud Action UK (www.financialfraudaction.org.uk) works in partnership with The UK Cards Association on industry initiatives to prevent fraud on credit and debit cards, with the Fraud Control Steering Group on non-card fraud and the Cheque & Credit Clearing Company on credit clearing and cheque fraud.

4 .The UK Cards Association is the leading trade association for the cards industry in the UK. With a membership that includes all major credit, debit and charge card issuers, and card acquiring banks, the role of the Association is both to unify and represent the UK card payments industry. It is responsible for formulating and implementing policy on non-competitive aspects of card payments including codes of practice, fraud prevention, major infrastructural changes, development of standards and other matters where cross-industry benefits are identified. More information about The UK Cards Association is available at www.theukcardsassociation.org.uk.

5. The Fraud Control Steering Group is an unincorporated association of financial institutions who participate in retail banking and the payments market in the UK. It is responsible for formulating and implementing policy and ensuring a co-ordinated industry approach to fighting payment, cheque and lending fraud.

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