If the case of Leonid Rotaru was intended to set a precedent for British courts, British banks should be very afraid.

In a recent court hearing, Rotaru, 32, a Bulgarian national living in the U.K., confessed to skimming data and PIN numbers from 9,000 ATM cards on behalf of a Bulgarian gang operating out of London.

He admitted to possession of professionally made skimming devices.

He told authorities he was working for organized crime bosses in London, whom he refused to name.

And he acknowledged skipping bail in another district, where he was being investigated for a similar crime, said an account by the Daily Mail.

"This is a sophisticated scam by which a number of people could have been victims," Judge Graham Hume Jones said this week at Rotaru's sentencing hearing at a Taunton Crown Court in Somerset, England. "Even if they had been repaid by the banks, the banks themselves would have been the victims, and ultimately the banks' customers."

Then, in exchange for Rotaru's in-court confession on four criminal counts, the judge gave him an 18-month suspended sentence. The self-admitted gangster who stole data worth an estimated £3.25 million ($5.25 million) walked away a free man.

At a hearing in November, the judge had warned Rotaru that he "could" get jail time.

Bulgarians aren't the only ones in on the act. Police say that 1,000 Romanian skimming rings are working in Britain currently, with an annual take of £30 million ($48.5 million), the Mail reported.

In March of this year, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Barnard, head of the Avon and Somerset economic crime unit, told the Mail that 92 percent of skimming crime in Britain is carried out by Romanian nationals

For more on this topic, visit the security research center.

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  • Jane Levenhagen
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    So crime does pay afterall
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