Two members of a Romanian organised crime gang, which is involved in multi-million euro cyber crime in Europe and the US, have been jailed today for credit card fraud.
Daniel Almajanu, 35, made fake cards using a card reader/writer machine, while Albert Gimy Linul, 29, who was caught with him, was visiting shops in Dublin buying things with the fake cards.
The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau described the convictions as significant as Almajanu was a target for law enforcement in Europe and the US.
Over €30bn was lost worldwide last year through cyber-enabled fraud, €20m of that in Ireland.
The gang was producing fake credit and debit cards, which were made from any plastic card, including loyalty cards and gift vouchers.
First they used a "deep insert skimmer" to collect customers' card numbers at UK bank outlets and put them on the fake cards using a computer and card reader writer.
They also used the skimmer to steal the card details from customers at ticket machines on the London Underground.
The details of more than 1,000 people's cards were on the computer, which the gardaí found when they raided the two men’s home in Prussia Street in Dublin.
The card details of those customers gave the gang the potential to steal up to €5m.
Almajanu and Linul were caught when two detectives, Will McCarthy and Ruth Finnegan, noticed them acting suspiciously in Temple Bar in Dublin on 13 February last year.
When they were stopped Almajanu had five false cards, Linul had 60 hidden in his sock.
Gardaí said Almajanu is the leader of the Romanian organised crime gang. He was previously deported from the UK after serving two years in prison for fraud offences there.
He had the technical expertise to carry out the frauds. Judge Melanie Greally said today the fact that he recruited Linul and paid him just €500 indicates his level of seniority in the gang.
He was jailed at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today for four years and four months.
Linul was testing the fake cards in Dublin for the gang. He was caught with 60 of them, which he was using in various restaurants and shops, buying goods such as cigarette cartons and alcohol, which he then sold on.
He also stole over £1,185 (€1,346) from the UK's HSBC bank. He was jailed today for three years.
Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Cryan, of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, described the convictions as highly significant.
This gang, he said, was the target not just of gardaí but also the Belgian, the UK and the Romanian police and was the focus of Europol and Eurojust.
Although credit card fraud is the gang’s main business, it has also been linked to human trafficking, money laundering and prostitution.
Over 90% of cyber-enabled fraud is committed online. No PIN number is required to use fraudulent card details in the US and the authorities there believe the gang stole as much as $20m.