In what many consider to be a monumental failure on the part of UK police, the ringleader of a notorious ATM skimming gang has escaped prosecutors and is believed to be hiding abroad, after being let out on bail.
Despite absconding UK authorities in the middle of legal procedures, the suspect’s trial continued, and a jury found the suspect —Alexandru Sovu, 39, of Romania— guilty. A Crown Court judge sentenced the man to 11 years in prison earlier this week.
Sovu’s gang built and sold ATM skimmers
Sovu is no ordinary crook, but the ringleader of a cyber-criminal gang that designed, manufactured, and sold ATM skimming devices and false ATM fronts that allowed other crooks to record credit and debit card numbers from ATM users.
Prosecutors said Sovu’s devices had been sold to numerous crooks who used them to carry out ATM fraud in countries such as the UK, the US, Ghana, Jamaica, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines.
Sovu and others built the devices in a garden shed in Colchester, England. They used now-defunct websites such as cardreaderfactory.com, msrskimmer.com, and goskimmer.com to sell the devices. These websites were registered and operated from under a UK company named CardReaderFactory LTD.
When Sovu and his partners had to ship ATM skimmers abroad, they broke down the device and hid parts as electronic circuitry inside remote controlled toys so that airport safety employees wouldn’t get suspicious.
All of Sovu’s partners are in jail… except him
Sovu and his gang, all Romanian nationals, were arrested last year. Four men and another woman already received prison sentences for their parts in the operation. The wife of one of the gang’s members was cleared of any involvement.
Sovu and another female gang member —Anca Fuioaga, 37, were the last two members still facing trial.
Fuioaga was sentenced to 30 months in prison. She worked as Sovu’s UK representative, selling devices to local fraudsters. It was because of one of these fraudster’s operations that UK police tracked down the group to the Colchester garden shed.
Sovu was released on bail earlier this year and is believed to have fled the country, now believed to be hiding in Romania or China.
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