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Number's up for credit card gang

MEMBERS of a Sri Lankan gang who cloned hundreds of credit cards used at a Balsall Common petrol station have been jailed.

MEMBERS of a Sri Lankan gang who cloned hundreds of credit cards used at a Balsall Common petrol station have been jailed.

The three fraudsters targeted the Shell filling station in the village as well as others in Hatton and Kenilworth - using hidden ceiling cameras to film card details and customers keying in their pin numbers.

The scam was uncovered after police raided a home in Coventry and discovered a state-of-the-art cloning factory.

Officers found card readers, laptop computers and other equipment at the Winsford Avenue property.

Three men who were part of the international scam were this week given jail sentences at Southwark Crown Court.

Ariyakunathasa Pirathesan, 28, was a leading member of the gang and received a four-and-a-half year sentence.

Sombalu Jeyaganesh, 34, and Silvanesan Mayilvaganam, 28, were both imprisoned for three years.

In recent months the Solihull Times has been inundated with reports of cards being cloned in Balsall Common.

Hundreds of people were thought to have been affected -with cards being used fraudulently as far afield as Canada and Australia. Frightened residents swapped plastic for cash and a Facebook page was set up by victims of the fraud.

Yesterday, a spokesman for the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) said recent reports were likely to have been sparked by cards that were in fact cloned months ago.

According to the unit - which specialises in tackling this type of fraud - it can take weeks or even months for a copied card to be used overseas.

Nevertheless, local police have asked anyone who has been affected to contact Inspector Nigel Sarling at Shirley police station.

And Godfrey Chesshire, chairman of Balsall Common Parish Council, said that there were still serious problems in the area - his own card was cloned three weeks ago.

"I spoke to a courier from my bank who told me he was delivering 100 new cards to Balsall Common every day. Travelling around the village everyone has their story to tell."

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said yesterday that no recent arrests had been made.

* Have you been a victim of credit card cloning in Balsall Common? If so e-mail and tell us your experience.



Cathrina Hulse
Multimedia Journalist
Annette Belcher
Multimedia Journalist
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