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Stiff sentences for biggest UK credit card fraudsters

Three crooks jailed for 17 years

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The computer technician at the centre of Britain's biggest ever credit card fraud was yesterday jailed for nine years.

Sunil Mahtani, 26, a former IT worker at Checkline plc, the firm that processed Heathrow Express's credit card transaction, pleaded guilty last week to downloading almost 9,000 credit card numbers from Checkline's systems. He sold this information on to a gang of crooks who obtained goods worth £2 million over three years using cloned cards that matched the data Mahtani supplied. The scam was only rumbled in September 2001, following an undercover police operation.

Mahtani's lawyers told Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court that he turned to crime in order to impress his merchant banker girlfriend, Elizabeth Ryan, who earned much more than her non-resident Indian national boyfriend.

Mahtani was jailed for seven years for his part in the scam by Judge Simon Smith. The judge sentenced Mahtani to a further two-years imprisonment for child pornography offences.

Two other members of the credit card cloning gang, Shahajan Miah and Shaidal Rahim, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy last week, were each jailed for four years yesterday.

The courts are yet to deal with eight other people charged in the case. ®

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