Damien Ionut (34), a Romanian national, has received a three year prison sentence in connection with a series of transaction reversal fraud (TRF) attacks on ATMs in the Republic of Ireland that caused nearly €13,000 of damage.  He was part of a group of men who targeted ATMs in counties Louth, Kildare, Wicklow, Meath, Westmeath and Dublin.  He also has 30 previous convictions for TRF attacks on ATMs in eight other European countries (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Italy, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom). According to police sources the total cash amount taken by Ionut in the five-week period was €5,980. Some of the attacks did not succeed but the total amount of damage caused was €12,881.  The attacks took place during October and November 2019.

Ionut was sentenced at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Friday 1st May 2020.  Police told the court that Ionut’s typical MO was as follows:

  • A legitimate “chip and pin” card is used to make a small cash withdrawal. When the cash dispenser shutter opens to dispense the cash, the criminal places a clip device behind it.
  • Then he uses the same card to request a much larger cash withdrawal, averaging €500. The ATM presents the cash behind the shutter, ready for delivery to the customer. However before the cash is dispensed, the ATM presents the bank card back to the user. The criminal quickly switches the real card for a dummy one, which is retracted by the ATM (which assumes the customer has left without it).
  •  As a result the ATM does not debit the customer’s bank account and attempts to recover the cash from behind the cash dispense shutter.
  • The clip placed behind the shutter prevents this from happening and the criminal then uses a chisel to break open the shutter and takes the cash.

More details of the case can be found in a related article published by the Irish Times

The EAST Expert Group on All Terminal Fraud (EGAF) focuses on the prevention of TRF and has produced a standard definition for TRF which can be seen in the below image.

TRF

EAST EGAF has produced definitions for all terminal fraud types, along with the related criminal benefits.  These can be seen on the Terminal Fraud Definitions page of this website.