Brion Hoban and Fiona Ferguson
A thief driving a rented Go Car who stole over €8,500 by tampering with numerous ATMs around Dublin has been jailed for 18 months.
Elvis Chiriac (35) employed what is called a “Transaction Reversal Fraud” in order to withdraw the maximum amount of money from an ATM without the machine registering that the cash had been removed.
Chiriac, with an address in Bacău, Romania, came forward on signed pleas of guilty to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for 15 counts of theft at various AIB ATMs and AIB banks at locations in Co Dublin on dates between January 8th and January 10th, 2020.
Judge Melanie Greally outlined that a total of €8,500 had been taken in a period in which the accused used a Go Car motor vehicle for transport around the various ATMs. She noted some ATMs had sustained damage.
She took into account his previous convictions including fraud and money laundering in Romania. She said he seems to minimise his own role, but the facts suggest he was an equal partner with his co-accused in the enterprise.
Impact of imprisonment
The judge placed the offence in the low middle range and noted he was assessed to be at a moderate risk of reoffending. She gave him credit for his early guilty pleas and offer of restitution.
She noted the reforms he had brought about in his personal circumstances, including addressing his drug habit, and she took into account the impact of his imprisonment on his partner and young family.
Judge Greally imposed a two-year sentence and suspended the final 6 months. She ordered that the €3,000 brought to court should be paid over to a charity nominated by the bank.
Detective Garda Garvan Lennon told Fiona Crawford BL, prosecuting, that on January 10th, 2020, the gardaí received a complaint from an operations manager in AIB outlining that there had been interference with some ATMs between January 6th and January 10th.
Det Garda Lennon said that what was occurring is called a “Transaction Reversal Fraud”, which describes a process in which a person puts a card into the ATM, takes out a small amount of money and then uses a metal or plastic clip in the machine door which stops it from closing.
A certain process is then employed with the end result being the person is able to remove the cash, but the ATM registers that the cash as having not been removed.
Det Garda Lennon said AIB could identify the cards used and identified one of them being used in a Centra in Dublin. Gardaí used CCTV obtained from this shop to identify Chiriac using the ATM and to identify that he had arrived in a rented GoCar.
Gardaí were able to use the GPS installed in the GoCar to trace the journey the accused man made while visiting the various locations in Dublin where he illegally withdrew the money over the three-day period.
In total, 22 attempts were made on ATMs, usually between midnight and 5am. The total value of the loss to AIB was €8,520. The court heard there was also some damage done to the ATMs.
Three legitimate cards were used during the illegal transactions, including cards from Macedonia and Abu Dhabi. A third card used was a Revolut card which was registered to Chiriac's niece in London.
Det Garda Lennon agreed with Keith Spencer BL, defending, that the offending requires “very remedial” items, but also “a knowledge of how to use them” in order to be carried out. He went on to say that “it is not a common offence in this country”.
Det Garda Lennon said that none of the stolen funds have been recovered.