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Fraudster who fooled ATMs into giving him £2,500

A card fraudster who duped bank machines into paying out just over £2,500 walked free from court after his 13-month jail term was suspended for four years.

In imposing the suspended term on 22-year-old Radhi Boukari at Belfast Crown Court, Her Honour Judge Kennedy said it was because of fraudsters like him that financial institutions spent “millions in combating such activities, passing the costs onto the general public”.

She added, however, that she was “leaving something hanging over his head” as she believed it was the best way to “ensure that he does not commit further offences”.

Earlier the judge had heard that Boukari, from Cliftonville Avenue in north Belfast, had legally obtained a pre-paid debit card online from Luxembourg and used it at numerous cash machines to withdraw money.

Prosecution lawyer Peter Magill said the fraudulent behaviour related to Boukari “manipulating” the money as the machine paid it, duping it into crediting his account, but still paying out the cash.

“For obvious reasons I won't detail whereby the machine thinks that the transaction has been cancelled,” said the lawyer, adding that while it was possible to do it more than once at a single ATM, the machine would eventually break down and have to be repaired.

He told the court that in total, Boukari managed to steal £2,580, but had caused £3,300 worth of damage to the machines he had duped.

Boukari was identified from CCTV footage taken from the machines and when his home was searched police uncovered a laptop which contained details of the machines he had targeted and two bank cards which had been used in the frauds.

He later pleaded guilty to eight counts of theft, six of causing criminal damage, two of attempted theft, and two of possessing articles for use in frauds on various dates between August and October 2008.

Describing the offences as “the devil making work for idle hands”, defence QC Richard Weir told the court that Boukari had become involved to get money to support his wife and child, but that since the offences he had been granted permission to work in Northern Ireland.

“The court can repose a well founded hope that he will become a productive member of society,” said the lawyer.

Judge Kennedy warned Boukari that any reoffending could result in him being sent back to prison, telling him that since he had chosen to live here “you should think carefully about how you behave if you want to make it a pleasant place for you and your child”.

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