herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Dad masterminded global ATM skimming scam from his box bedroom in Ireland

A gifted mathematician supplied ATM skimmers to criminal gangs globally from the box bedroom of his semi-detached house in Ireland.

The incredible operation by Vitalii Pascari (33) was revealed after gardai raided his home in February 2011.

Detectives uncovered a worldwide ATM skimming operation -- believed to be the first time such an operation was found by gardai.

The mastermind behind the illegal workshop had been sought by police across Europe and America.

And the dad-of-two constructed the "sophisticated operation" from his four-bedroom house.

Pascari, of River Road, Rhebogue, Limerick, told gardai he had been running the operation from his home for a year.

He was shipping false ATM machines and ATM parts to clients in Greece, Italy, Hong Kong, South Africa, France and the US.

The items recovered by gardai included five plastic ATM covers, four laptops, 150 plastic gift shop cards from Debenhams, Dunnes Stores and TK Max, spray cans, copper sheets, battery packs, metal strips, mobile phones, cameras and chip devices.

Gardai also found a portable USB computer memory device containing 13 videos of members of the public typing in their pin numbers at ATM bank machines.

Pascari pleaded guilty to eight counts of theft and fraud relating to the alleged manufacturing and distribution of ATM skimming devices.

Yesterday, Judge Carroll Moran said it was not possible to calculate the loss Pascari had caused to credit card companies, their customers or to businesses.

It was also not possible to assess the amount of money Pascari made, Limerick Circuit court heard.

Judge Moran said: "It is submitted [by the defence] that he is not a 'Mr Big'...But, there was an amazing level of sophistication in the operation and the accused showed remarkable ability."

Judge Moran said Pascari was able to make a skimming device for an ATM by working from a photograph emailed to him from clients.

The judge added Pascari was very good at electronics and showed an amazing understanding of mathematics.

"All in all, his ability in these matters is very impressive. He clearly is a brilliant man and I have to compliment him on that. But, it is a pity he used brilliance for crime rather than legal business," the Judge added.

At the time of his arrest, Mr Vitalii was unemployed but had around €30,000 in his bank account, the court heard.

The judge jailed Pascari for five years backdating the sentence to February 25 last year, when he was first arrested.

hnews@herald.ie

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