Judge issues warrants over banking scam in Lowestoft

A JUDGE has issued warrants for the arrest of three Romanian nationals who have been found guilty in their absence of a bank card skimming scam in Lowestoft.

Laurentiu Balan, 27 his sister Ramona Balan, 21, and Gheorghe Petrescu, 30, all of Harrow, failed to turn up for their trial at Ipswich Crown Court and the case went ahead in their absence.

After a week-long trial, Laurentiu Balan was found guilty of two offences of conspiring to steal money from banks and converting criminal property while his sister was found guilty of concealing criminal property.

Petrescu was found guilty of one offence of conspiring to steal money from banks. They had denied all the charges.

After the jury's guilty verdicts David Wilson, prosecuting, told the court that a car belonging to the defendants was last seen at Dover and it was believed they had returned to Romania.

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Judge David Goodin said he wouldn't sentence the defendants in their absence and issued arrest warrants.

During the trial the court heard that the police were alerted after Laurentiu Balan and Petrescu were seen acting suspiciously near a cash machine outside a Co-op store in Westwood Avenue, in Lowestoft, in January 2009.

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Mr Wilson told the court that one of the men appeared to be doing something to the machine while the other was keeping watch and they had then stood back and watched while a customer used the machine.

The court heard evidence from an expert who described how criminals used a false card-reading device to record details from a strip on the back of bank cards and placed a camera over the top of the machine to get customers' PIN numbers.

Mr Wilson told the court that after Laurentiu and Petrescu were arrested in Lowestoft on January 8, police officers went to their London home and saw Ramona Balan 'dashing round' the living room and hiding a package behind some curtains before officers entered the house.

The package was found to contain �6,000 which she knew had come from criminal activity.

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