Harrow-based criminals behind cash trap ATM scam jailed for 4 years and 6 months

Two men who targeted ATM cash machines have been sentenced (16 June 2022) at the Inner London Crown Court to a combined total of four years and six months in prison.

Sebastian Vizir, 35, of Harrow, and Lucian Martinica, 29, of Harrow, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal, following a successful investigation by the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), a specialist police unit that is funded by the banking and finance industry.

Vizir and Martinica used a device known as a ‘cash trap’ to steal funds from several cash machines across England between 1 December 2021 and 1 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.

The fraud was spotted by bank staff and referred to the DCPCU to investigate. CCTV evidence from the ATMs identified Vizir and Martinica at a series of cash trapping ATM incidents.

Officers from the unit arrested them both while they were trying to steal money from a supermarket ATM in St Albans on 1 February 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, head of the DCPCU, said:

The DCPCU is 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.

Area of expertise:

Notes to editor

1. The Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU) is a unique proactive police unit, with a national remit, formed as a partnership between UK Finance, the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police together with the Home Office. It is fully sponsored by the banking and finance industry, with an on-going brief to investigate, target and, where appropriate, arrest and seek successful prosecution of offenders responsible for card, cheque and payment fraud crimes. It is headed up by a Detective Chief Inspector and comprises officers from the Metropolitan and City of London police forces who work alongside banking and finance industry fraud investigators and colleagues.

2. For more information or to request any images, please contact the UK Finance press office on 0207 416 6750 or press@ukfinance.org.uk 

3. Please find advice from the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign on how consumers can stay safe when using cards at a cash machine below:

  • Always cover the keypad with your free hand whenever you use your card to avoid your PIN being seen, or to prevent it from being captured by a hidden camera set up by a criminal.
  • Make sure you’re aware of people who may be standing too close or trying to distract you as you use an ATM in order to steal your card details and PIN. It’s okay to say no to offers of help from seemingly well-meaning strangers.
  • If your card has been retained by a card machine, ensure you report it to your card provider immediately – if possible whilst at, or near, the machine. Make sure you have your card company’s 24-hour contact telephone number. The number will be on the back of your card, your card statement, their website or banking app.
  • If your banking app allows, freeze your card through the app to prevent criminals making withdrawals and purchases if your card is stolen or missing.
  • Some banks will allow you to put a maximum cash machine withdrawal limit through your banking app, this can prevent criminals taking large sums from your account if your card is stolen.
  • If you notice anything suspicious or unusual about an ATM such as signs of tampering, step away from using it and report it to the bank concerned immediately.
  • Ensure you put your card and money away for safekeeping prior to leaving the cash machine. Where possible, destroy or shred any receipts, mini-statements, or balance enquiries when you dispose of them.
Harrow-based criminals behind cash trap ATM scam jailed for 4 years and 6 months

20.06.22

Press release