SINGAPORE - Two Romanians who abetted in a conspiracy to withdraw a total of $75,150 from a bank's auto-teller machines were jailed on Friday (Nov 11).
Stefan Eugen, a 38-year-old mechanic, was given three years' jail after he had admitted to 10 charges of theft totalling $10,000 from United Overseas Bank ATMs, while Adrian-Cristian Goncearov, 45, had admitted to 20 charges and got 30 months' jail.
Eugen and Goncearov faced 54 and 101 charges of theft respectively.
A district court heard that Eugen met a Romanian known only as Mihai on the Internet this year and communicated through a web messaging and calling application.
Mihai told Eugen that he had a plan to get money from other people without getting caught, and needed two people for the plan.
Eugen roped in Goncearov, who indicated his interest about the potential plan.
Later, Eugen met Mihai in London and was given 40 to 50 gift cards, each with a magnetic stripe, which could be used to withdraw money from ATMs.
Mihai brought Eugen to a market in London where Eugen took about 200 gift cards from racks.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Suhas Malhotra said Mihai told Eugen that he would access the latter's computer remotely and encode credit card data onto the magnetic stripe of the gift cards.
After Eugen had downloaded an application onto his computer, Mihai gave him a card reader, which Eugen had to connect to his computer, for Mihai to encode the gift cards.
Eugen and his partner were promised a 30 per cent commission of the total amount withdrawn from the ATMs.
After being told of the plan to withdraw money from ATMs using gift cards, Goncearov agreed to join in and flew to London to meet Eugen.The duo were told to fly to Taiwan, the Philippines and Singapore and given US$4,000 for travel expenses.
Mihai told them that money would be withdrawn only from ATMs in Singapore, and that the duo were to contact him when they reached the Republic for further instructions.
Both arrived here on Feb 19. Later, Mihai encoded gift cards with credit card information and gave the duo the personal identification numbers of each encoded card.
They split the cards between them. Mihai instructed Eugen to ensure that Goncearov delete the encoded data on the cards after they had tried or succeeded in withdrawing from ATMs in Singapore.
The duo went to ATMs of various banks in Singapore but only managed to withdraw money from UOB ATMs, using the encoded gift cards.
They would normally try to withdraw $100 and spent the money on food, drinks, hotels and travel expenses. The rest was exchanged into foreign currencies.
Both left for Hong Kong on March 1. They returned three days later, and continued with their withdrawals.
They were arrested on March 16 while trying to leave Singapore. Nearly $42,000 were seized from them.
They could have been jailed for up to three years and fined for each charge.
Correction note: This article has been edited for clarity.