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Man avoids jail after £3 million bank card scam

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 21, 2012

Leonid Rotaru, convicted for his part in a bank card fraud yesterday

Leonid Rotaru, convicted for his part in a bank card fraud yesterday

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A Romanian man involved in a sophisticated bank card fraud thought to be worth more than £3 million with 9,000 potential victims has walked free from court.

Leonid Rotaru was given an 18-month jail term, suspended for two years, after he was convicted for his part in the scam.

Taunton Crown Court heard that the 32-year-old helped to fit "skimming" devices on cash dispensers, which downloaded the card details of those who used them.

Police said they discovered 9,000 different card accounts on a computer seized during the criminal investigation, estimating the network to which Rotaru belonged had access to at least £3 million – based on the average fraud per card for typical skimming offences.

Speaking outside the court, Avon and Somerset Police civilian investigator Barrie Douglas said: "The potential in these cases is always for a lot of money to be made. Banks say the average (fraud) per card is around £460."

Asked whether he was content with the sentence handed down to Rotaru, Mr Douglas said: "That's for the courts to decide, it's not for me."

The jury heard that father-of-two Rotaru, of Bridgwater, Somerset, had been living legally in the country for three years.

He fitted the discreet skimming device to a cash machine, which was later removed and used to download the card details from each victim's account. Those details were then sent via email to another man.

Rotaru told police he was "at the bottom end" of the operation, and that the "big boys operated out of London".

However, he refused to explain why he had not given their names to police as he left the court a free man. He also refused to say who received the card detail e-mails.

Judge Graham Hume Jones told Rotaru: "This is a sophisticated scam by which a number of people could have been victims.

"Even if they had been repaid by the banks, the banks themselves would have been the victims, and ultimately the banks' customers."

The court heard Rotaru skipped bail while under investigation for one such fraud, in Axminster, Devon, in 2011.

He was eventually convicted by a jury after his DNA was discovered inside the inner components of the tiny device.

Rotaru was sentenced for four counts of possessing an article for use in fraud and one count of possessing or controlling a false or improperly obtained identification card.

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  • Plautus  |  December 21 2012, 9:59AM

    A teenager who used Facebook to groom young boys, some of whom he later molested, can continue to use social networking sites, a judge ruled yesterday. Callum Dower, 19, used the site to encourage youths to send him naked pictures. If they rejected his advances, he would pose as a girl and try again. He went on to molest one boy in a supermarket toilet, and another in his car after allowing him to drive it in a car park. Judge Graham Hume Jones sentenced the 'extremely manipulative' Dower to a three-year community order. Rather hilariously he agreed with defence barrister Patrick Mason's claim that a ban from using social networking websites would be 'particularly excessive', and deprive the defendant of the 'social traffic' taken for granted by his peers. Who appoints these idiots?

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  • Plautus  |  December 21 2012, 9:50AM

    A teenager who used Facebook to groom young boys, some of whom he later molested, can continue to use social networking sites, a judge ruled yesterday. Callum Dower, 19, used the site to encourage youths to send him naked pictures. If they rejected his advances, he would pose as a girl and try again. He went on to molest one boy in a supermarket toilet, and another in his car after allowing him to drive it in a car park. Judge Graham Hume Jones did not jail the 'extremely manipulative' Dower, he gave him a three-year community order. Rather hilariously he agreed with defence barrister Patrick Mason's claim that a ban from using social networking websites would be 'particularly excessive', and deprive the defendant of the 'social traffic' taken for granted by his peers. This judge's rulings speak for themselves. Read more: http://tinyurl.com/3sh2hj5 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

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