Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Man accused of targeting ATMs at 13 banks in 24 hours

Up to 13 bank branches in Belfast and Lisburn were targeted in a cash machine scam plot within 24 hours, the High Court heard.

Faults at ATMs in both cities are being connected to trapping devices allegedly used in an attempt to cheat unsuspecting customers, prosecutors revealed. Details emerged as a man accused of tampering with machines and trying to steal cash sought permission to move to Spain to work.

Gabriel Popa is charged with 15 offences including criminal damage, possession of articles for use in fraud, attempted theft and having false identity documents.

The 28-year-old Romanian national, with an address at The Elms, Malone Road, Belfast, was detained with another man in Lisburn on July 5.

The court heard that after arrest he replied: “I'm on holiday.” Prosecution barrister Fiona O'Kane said police who tracked the suspects using CCTV cameras discovered bank ATMs in the area were out of order.

Popa has denied any involvement with the trap devices.

A laptop and card-reader was seized from the home of his co-accused. This man claimed the reading device belonged to a Romanian national.

Popa, previously granted bail, was seeking a variation to allow him to take a job offer in Malaga. The application was adjourned until guarantees can be obtained.

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