A PAIR of fraudsters who targeted ATMs in Warrington in their pre-planned crime spate across the north west have avoided prison.

Catalin Fatu, 36, and Eugen Tarpan, 25, appeared in Liverpool Crown Court on Friday after the incident at McColl's on Lovely Lane.

The pair used a device to jam the ATM when it dispensed money, causing the amount to be refunded back to the bank card, while pocketing the cash themselves.

Kate Gaskell, prosecuting, told the court how a mobile service technician for Cardtronics was called to the Lovely Lane store on April 11.

There were scratches on the cash dispenser which were consistent with transaction reversal fraud and four other ATMs in the north west showed the same marks.

Warrington Guardian:

Liverpool Crown Court

At a spa garage in Haydock, CCTV footage showed Fatu and Tarpan approach the cash register.

Fatu started tampering with it, installed a device and then requested £250 while Tarpan was acting as a look-out.

The court heard how they got into a car, driven by Tarpan, which was then reported to police and spotted later that night on the M6.

Recovered from the vehicle was £4,950 in cash, a diary, 36 bank cards in different names and a handmade metal cash grab tool.

Of the 36 cards, none of which were stolen, 28 had been used in 44 locations to the sum of £9,250.

The diary included a list of postcodes which corresponded to where Fatu and Tarpan had stolen cash in Warrington and St Helens and revealed that they were also planning to visit Liverpool and Wirral.

Fatu accepted that he had also committed fraud in Edinburgh and the north east to a sum of £8,000.

Tarpan said he was only involved on April 10 and 11 in the north west, to the sum of £4,000.

The court heard how Fatu, of Woodford Road in London, had committed like offences to fuel his on-going gambling problem.

However, Tarpan, of Barclay Oval in Essex, has no previous convictions and was apologetic and showed remorse for the offence which he committed due to financial problems.

Sentencing Judge Louise Brandon said: "This worked because the two of you took separate roles to facilitate this fraud but you worked together.

"It needed both of you to work so you are both equally culpable _ you were both working as a team."

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Addressing Fatu, Judge Brandon added: "You have relevant previous convictions for like offences.

"You have, up to now, learnt nothing from the sentences you have received."

Fatu was sentenced to 18 months in prison suspended for 18 months and 200 hours of unpaid work.

Tarpan was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for 18 months and 120 hours of unpaid work.

Both men must undertake a rehabilitation activity requirement.