Cash machine was a fraud

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The Independent Online
Two men were found guilty yesterday of taking part in an ingenious fraud involving the world's first home-made high street cash machine.

The phoney, but convincing, Halifax Building Society "cashcard" dispenser "enticed" scores of people into trying to use it. During their fruitless attempts to withdraw cash their account details and PIN identity numbers had been secretly recorded by members of a gang, who eventually used the information to withdraw more than pounds 120,000 with counterfeit cards.

Graham Moore, a 31-year-old computer course student of Thamesmead, south- east London, was convicted with Anthony Hodges, 37, a mortgage broker, from Waltham Abbey in Essex, of conspiring to defraud banks, building societies and other financial institutions. They were remanded in custody for reports until 29 September, when they will be sentenced with Moore's brother, Stephen, 41, of Hackney, east London, who admitted the offence.

Southwark Crown Court was told that the cash machine, which was set up complete with Link and Delta card signs at the front of what appeared to be a mortgage broker's shop in Bow, east London, was designed and made so well it even fooled building society officials.

Martin Field, for the prosecution, said that after the machine had extracted details of a customer's account and noted their PIN number, card users were informed their transactions could not be processed and advised to try later. Account-holders went elsewhere. But by that time a computer at the back of the machine had downloaded information contained in the magnetic strip on their cards.

This was then sent, via a modem, to the gang's headquarters, where the details were processed on to counterfeit cards. This went on for five weeks during the spring of last year. The swindle was exposed after a number of cardholders complained to a genuine Halifax branch nearby about the problems the building society's other machine was giving.

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