Prolific chip and pin fraudster jailed for ‘£35m scam’
One of Britain’s most prolific chip and pin fraudsters, Theogenes De Montford, has been jailed for nationwide card cloning scam that could have raked in up to £35 million.
The 29 year-old was at the heart of a gang that cloned thousands of credit cards by inserting devices into pin entry devices at petrol stations across the country, Southwark Crown Court was told.
Mr Recorder Nicholas Rhodes QC told the software engineering graduate ”the motivating factor was greed and the huge profits you could make with your skills from this crime”.
The potential profits ran into millions of pounds, the court heard. De Montfort was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison.
There was a significant reduction in the number of chip and pin frauds in the UK since De Montford’s arrest and the cases highlighted in court “can only be the tip of the iceberg”, the court was told.
The judge told De Montford he was “involved, to a great extent, in what was an extensive nationwide fraud”.
He said that if a figure of £1,000 per cloned card was used, the potential loss could be up to £35 million.
Sri Lankan-born De Montford, of Blandford Way, Hayes, west London, came to the UK in 2001 and will be deported at the end of his sentence.
He was found with about 35,000 card details, 7,000 of which came from a single Shell garage at Bluebell Hill in Maidstone, Kent, the court heard.
Amrik Kalsi, the owner of the franchise, told the court his business dropped by 47% as he was completely unaware his machine had been targeted for two months.
A group on the online social networking site Facebook attracted 700 members after it was launched to encourage users not to use the garage.
The owner suffered “regular verbal abuse” from customers and the loss of business had a “dramatic effect” on his personal finances, the court heard.
In a victim impact statement, a spokesman for Shell UK added that this type of fraud – not all of it carried out by De Montford – resulted in a 25% drop in their business in the UK.
Earlier, Adam Budworth, for the prosecution, said De Montford and other gang members, including some he recruited, would modify the pin entry devices by inserting something which would store and transmit data from legitimate credit cards.
The data would be used to create cloned cards which would then be used to take money from unwitting members of the public, the court heard.
On occasions, masked men would attend the garages late at night to attempt “nakedly and brazenly” to get sales attendants to help them modify the machines, the court heard.
De Montford pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to possess articles for use in the course of fraud and was sentenced today following the conclusion of a related trial.
Three other gang members were each sentenced to three and a half years in jail after being found guilty of conspiracy to defraud last week.
Rajakumar Thevathasan, 34, of Hayward Close, Wimbledon; Rashid Hassan, 26, of Queen Adelaide Court, Anerley, south east London; and Usman Mahmood, 26, of Norbury Crescent, Streatham, south west London all played lesser roles in the conspiracy, the court heard.
The judge said they were “assistants to De Montford” who were motivated by greed.
Sri Lankan-born Thevathasan will also be deported upon his release.