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Leahu and Mirzac, sentenced for their part as a malware gang

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

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

  • Two members of Eastern European crime gang sentenced to a total of seven years and eight months in prison
  • Duo’s sentencing at the Inner Crown Court comes 14 months after the previous gang member was jailed
  • Total of four men have now been jailed for their involvement in targeting cash machines with malware
  • Prison sentences given were for role they played in cyber attack that saw £1.6 million stolen from UK cash machines in May 2014
  • Results come after investigation by the London Regional Fraud Team (LRFT) which comprised of our officers with officers from the Metropolitan Police Service and British Transport Police

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.

How the gang operated

The gang targeted the standalone cash machines in 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.

Spot the signs: How to avoid falling victim to fraud at cash machines with Action Fraud

Arresting the fraudsters

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.

“Highly sophisticated attack”

Katie Watkins, Police Staff Investigator, 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.

“We 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.”