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Anger over fraud sentencing

PUBLISHED: 14:35 09 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:05 07 September 2010

Charlotte Newton A HIGHGATE resident whose bank account had previously been cleared out by thieves has criticised magistrates for sentencing a cash card fraudster to just 12 weeks in jail. Ralph Crisp, of Hornsey Lane Gardens, lost a significant quantity

Charlotte Newton

A HIGHGATE resident whose bank account had previously been cleared out by thieves has criticised magistrates for sentencing a cash card fraudster to just 12 weeks in jail.

Ralph Crisp, of Hornsey Lane Gardens, lost a significant quantity of cash when fraudsters attached a card cloning device to the Barclays ATM in Crouch End Broadway on March 3.

He was furious to discover that Highgate Magistrates last week gave Andrei Aldea, who pleaded guilty to nine cash card offences, just 12 weeks in jail.

Aldea, 23, attached a scanning device to cash machines in Crouch End Broadway, which swallowed up four shoppers' cards and enabled him to copy their pins - but in each case he failed to obtain any cash.

At Highgate Magistrates' Court on Wednesday April 1, Aldea, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to four counts of theft, four counts of criminal damage when he tampered with the cash machines; and one of possessing an article for use in fraud. He committed the offences between February 25 and March 7 this year.

But the magistrates sentenced him to just 12 weeks, angering residents such as Mr Crisp who fear that he could be back on the borough's streets in as little as six.

Mr Crisp, chairman of the Haringey Association of Neighbourhood Watches, said: "As a victim myself of another ATM scam, I am extremely pleased that this person has been caught, charged and sentenced as a result of the excellent work of our Safer Neighbourhoods teams.

"I am aware, however, that this particular crime is becoming an increasing problem, affecting many people. Only today a neighbour informed me that she too has just become a victim.

"Therefore I am extremely concerned that this sentence of just 12 weeks, part of which will already have been served while on remand, together with time off for good behaviour, means he will be back on the streets in two or three weeks time, free to continue a criminal career.

"This is totally inadequate to deter other people from committing this particular type of crime, which causes victims enormous inconvenience and stress."

Lib Dem Crouch End councillor Dave Winskill said: "Three months does seem a rather short sentence and perhaps it would have been better if the magistrate had taken a more robust view to send the message to anyone else contemplating this type of fraud.

"The misery and disruption caused to individuals is immeasurable and I hope the police, by working with the community and financial sector, will continue to mop up these characters.


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