An illegal Sri Lankan immigrant is behind bars after ripping off hundreds of customers at the Wirral petrol station where he worked.
Sri Lankan Murugaiya Selvakumaran, 36, swapped the chip and pin machines at a Murco petrol station in Wallasey with card readers which allowed international criminals to copy customers’ cards and make fraudulent withdrawals.
The fraud only came to light towards the end of February 2009 when banks began to tell their clients they were victims of £41,500 worth of illegal transactions.
In total, 517 credit and debit cards were compromised. The petrol station, in Leasowe Road, is run by a Sri Lankan family but they were not related to Selvakumaran, who gave them a fake name when he moved to Wirral from Middlesex.
Jo Maxwell, prosecuting, told Warrington Crown Court yesterday: “Some 200 customers of the Murco store contacted Merseyside Police to let them know that a fraud had taken place.
“Their investigations, and extensive CCTV, showed all the transactions had taken place during shifts when Mr Selvakumaran was at work.” The court heard CCTV showed him swapping the pin machines for the card readers, which were never recovered.
Ms Maxwell added Selvakumaran, who has lived in the UK for nine years, was an illegal immigrant who had exhausted all legal options to stay and had had his work visa revoked.
Ken Heckle, defending, said: “He was not the brains of the operation and he has not benefited. “This money went to other people more criminally sophisticated than himself.” Selvakumaran, who was assisted at court by a Tamil interpreter, was caught by police in Surrey on an unrelated matter in March.
He gave them a false name but they identified him by his fingerprints and alerted Merseyside Police. Although he offered no comment in interview, he pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing items to be used to commit fraud at an earlier court hearing.
Judge Stephen Clarke said: “You were playing your part in what was a wide-ranging and skilfully-operated fraud. You played the role whereby those credit cards could be cloned.
“And, of course, you caused your employer real problems because the customers probably believed he was responsible for the fraud.” He jailed Selvakumaran for 12 months, telling him he would serve no more than six. He has already been in custody for 126 days.
After the sentencing, Detective Sergeant Paul Kay said: “Some of the victims of this fraud will have been reimbursed by their banks, but many more will have been left out of pocket.”