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Gang members jailed for £1.6m malware attack on UK cash machines

On Tuesday 2 May 2017, the outstanding members of an Eastern European crime gang were sentenced to a total of seven years and eight months in prison for the role they played in a malware attack that saw £1.6 million stolen from UK cash machines in May 2014.

Emanual Leahu, aged 30, of no fixed abode was sentenced to four years and 10 months and Gheorge Mirzac, aged 32, of no fixed abode was sentenced to two years and 10 months imprisonment .The  men were sentenced for conspiracy to defraud, for the role they played in an organised crime gang that inserted malware into cash machines and subsequently removed hundreds of thousands of pounds from them.

Leahu  and Mirzac’s sentencing at the Inner Crown Court comes 14 months after the last gang member was jailed following an investigation by the London Regional Fraud Team (LRFT) which comprised of officers from the City of London Police, the Metropolitan Police and the British Transport Police.

A total of four men have now been jailed for their involvement in targeting  cash machines with malware. The gang targeted the cash machines in standalone public places across the UK in May 2014, the machines were targeted in the Greater London area, Bognor Regis, Brighton, Liverpool and Portsmouth.

Leahu and Mirzac were involved in targeting various locations to conduct reconnaissance of ATM sites and identify possible targets for the installation of malware.

They also played a part in tampering with the machines so that they could be physically broken into and override the system, forcing the machine to eject the cash. The physical nature of the attacks meant that no customer data was compromised. The malware they had installed subsequently deleted itself, making it difficult to identify the cause of the theft.

Leahu was arrested by officers from the City of London Police in Bacau, Romania on 20 September 2016.  He was extradited to the UK and was charged with conspiracy to commit fraud on 29 September.

Mirzac was arrested by French police in Cannes, France on 16 January 2017 following a European arrest warrant put out in his name. He was subsequently extradited to the UK on 10 February 2017.

Officers from the City of London Police arrested him at Heathrow airport and he was taken to Bishopsgates Police Station where he was charged with conspiracy to commit fraud.

Police Staff Investigator, Katie Watkins of the City of London Police said:

“Leahu and Mirzac both played an integral part in an Eastern European gang that executed a well-planned and highly sophisticated attack on cash machines located across the UK.

“The gang members demonstrated a massive amount of complacency in that they believed they would get away with a complex attack on the ATM machines. Today’s result demonstrates that even the most complex of crimes will be pursued, and those responsible brought before the courts to face justice.

“The City of London Police have worked tirelessly with a number of other law enforcement agencies to ensure that every key member of this criminal network is convicted for their crimes.”

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