A man has pleaded guilty to stealing more than €120,000 by using cloned ATM cards in bank machines across several counties over a five-month period.
Dad-of-two Danile Munteanu (31), from Romania, was arrested in Co Meath in March last year after a garda surveillance operation.
Trim Circuit Criminal Court heard that cloned cards had been used to withdraw money from the accounts of innocent Bank of Ireland customers in counties Monaghan, Louth, Meath, Westmeath, Galway, Kildare, Wicklow and Dublin.
Some customers had their entire accounts cleared out as amounts of up to €700 at a time were withdrawn without their knowledge. The victims included juveniles and people in their 80s, and one had more than €7,000 stolen.
Bank of Ireland refunded all the money and reported the thefts to gardaí.
Detective Garda Stephen Kelly of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau told Judge Martina Baxter that trawling CCTV at the ATMs, as well as information from garda stops and checkpoints, had identified Munteanu as a suspect.
An address at Tower Mount, Navan, Co Meath was placed under surveillance in December 2018, but appeared to be empty.
But after another spate of thefts on February 23 and 24, 2019 at Killester and Dunshaughlin, a search warrant was obtained.
Gardaí raided the house on March 4, 2019, and arrested Munteanu.
During the search, a large number of loyalty cards with magnetic strips were found, more than 50 of which had stolen bank details overwritten onto them.
Det Garda Kelly told the court that cloned cards were made after criminals placed skimming equipment and a hidden camera onto ATMs and then match PINs with the skimmed account information.
The cards could then could be used to withdraw cash from the account at a machine.
In many cases, several transactions were made over a period of days before customers would realise there was something wrong, usually when they went to use their card to pay for something and found there was no money in their account.
Munteanu pleaded guilty to nine charges of theft, each covering multiple transactions, between October 1, 2018 and March 3, 2019.
He also pleaded guilty to nine charges of possession of false instruments, namely cloned bank cards, on the same dates, and of possession of false Romanian ID cards, a false Romanian passport, and a false Romanian driving licence.
He also pleaded guilty to possession of a machine for making cloned cards.
The court heard that Munteanu admitted guilt at an early stage and offered genuine remorse.
Judge Baxter remanded him in custody to appear in court again on February 23 next for sentencing.