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Friday, 22 March, 2002, 19:31 GMT
Trio jailed for cash card scam
Cash being withdrawn from bank machine
The scam involved using plastic from bottle tops
Three members of a French family were jailed after conducting a campaign of cash machine fraud in the UK.

Nathalie Nourri, 20, and brother Francois, 23, used small pieces of plastic to jam cash machines, Manchester Crown Court was told.

The scam enabled them to steal cards and withdraw thousands of pounds of cash during brief trips to the UK with their elder brother, Alain, 33.

Detective Sergeant Dean Fraser, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "It was a cunning tactic as often the victim would not even realise their card had been stolen and so did not report it to the bank.

Home visits

"That would leave the offenders to withdraw cash for two or three days before it was cancelled."

They would then return home to Traverse des Rosiers, Marseille, southern France, with the proceeds.

The two younger family members pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal at a hearing early in March at Manchester Crown Court.

Their elder brother admitted attempted theft and going equipped to steal.

On Friday, Francois was jailed for two-and-a-half years while Nathalie was sentenced to the same period in a young offenders' institute.

HSBC bank logo
The trio targeted HSBC banks

Alain was jailed for two years for his lesser part in the fraud, which was conducted on cash machines from London to Carlisle.

Manchester Crown Court heard how the three shoved pieces of plastic from the tops of bottles of mineral water into cash machines, in a variation of a scam known as the Lebanese Loop.

Prosecuting barrister Andrew Long said customers would then approach the cash machine only to find their cashcard became stuck.

It was alleged one of the three would approach the customer and advise them to type in their PIN number.

When that failed, both would walk away from the machine leaving a second member of the family to retrieve the cashcard with a knife.

Armed with both the card and the number, the gang would then withdraw cash from the unwitting customer's account.

Bank investigation

The three were arrested in July 2001 after a failed attempt to obtain a card from a machine in Manchester.

A university security guard saw them and notified the police.

Mr Long said HSBC had become a prime target for the scam after it became the first bank to offer customers the opportunity to make cash withdrawals of up to 500 a day.

A bank investigation showed the defendants were linked to about 13,000 stolen from HSBC machines captured on closed-circuit television.

All the money was refunded to customers at the bank's expense.

Outside court, Mr Fraser said: "They would travel from their home in France to Britain for a short period of time to commit these offences before travelling home with the proceeds."

Click here to go to Manchester
See also:

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