Belfast Telegraph

Man accused of trying to hack government pensions website to stand trial in Belfast

By Alan Erwin

A man is to stand trial in Belfast for allegedly trying to infiltrate a government pensions website as part of a major computer hacking operation, a judge ruled on Monday.

Daniel Marincu, 32, was allegedly involved in an identity fraud scam uncovered during a raid on a Belfast apartment.

He was arrested after police seized a laptop said to contain bank details for multiple individuals and set up to print counterfeit Spanish La Liga football tickets.

Marincu, a Romanian national of no fixed address, faces charges of possessing articles for use in fraud, fraud by false representation, theft of a bank statement and unauthorised access to computer material.

He was detained when officers swooped on an apartment at Alfred Steet in the city on June 28 last year.

Appearing before Belfast Magistrates' Court today for preliminary enquiry proceedings, Marincu confirmed he understood the allegations against him.

He declined to give evidence or call witnesses during the hearing.

Defence counsel Michael Boyd did not dispute prosecution submissions that Marincu has a case to answer.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall granted an application to have him sent for trial at Belfast Crown Court on a date to be fixed.

Marincu, who remains in custody, will be represented by two barristers due to the complexity and scale of the evidence.

Mr Boyd explained: "There's 2,000 extra pages on a memory stick.

"This is an investigation that's been going on for a year, a lot of it technical, with allegations of breaking into government websites and setting up a number of fake accounts." 

A previous court was told Marincu was detained after police carried out an intelligence-led search to identify any victims of people trafficking.

Two women in the flat with him confirmed they were escorts, but denied knowing the accused.

Marincu is not accused of any exploitation or trafficking offences.

Instead, the prosecution contend that a laptop used by him contained a programme capable of accessing other computers.

Photos on the screen showed bank and credit card statements for another individual in the same apartment complex.

Another command window showed an attempt to get into a government pensions website, it was alleged.

Investigations launched by cyber crime officers revealed multiple identity cards for a variety of foreign nationals were stored in files on the device, the court heard.

Names, addresses, dates of birth, phone and credit card numbers, passwords and log-in details were all said to have been detected.

Marincu claims he came to Northern Ireland after developing a relationship with a woman he met online.

He insists that any computer hacking was carried out by others at the address accessing the laptop.

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