A PROFESSIONAL fraudster who ran a £3 million scam which involved building kit to steal details from cash machines across the world has been sentenced for his crimes.

Alexandru Sovu, 39, designed devices and ATM fronts to be sold to criminals in New York, Jamaica, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Ghana and the Philippines.

The devices were built in a shed in Harwich Road, Colchester, and distributed by a gang of crooks.

Five other members of the group were jailed last year for their part in the operation, but Sovu was the mastermind.

He avoided justice when he absconded during his trial at Blackfriars Crown Court and is believed to be at large in Romania or China.

The conman was found guilty in his absence and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

The “skimming” devices that Sovu and the gang built and distributed could be plugged into any ticket or cash machine, recording the card details of users.

They obtained data from cards used at banks, travel terminals, London Underground stations and petrol pumps.

Detective Constable Terry Botten, of the British Transport Police, said: “This was a long and protracted investigation into Sovu and the gang he ran.

“He is a professional criminal and he ran a organised network that was living off criminal proceeds stolen from people around the world.

“The reality is their activity can and does have a marked impact on private individuals and financial establishments.

“This has been a lengthy investigation to unpick the group’s set-up and identify those involved, and I am pleased that they have now been sentenced and will serve prison sentences for their crimes.”

Sovu, of Prospect Road, Reading, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to make and supply articles for use in fraud, one count of possessing criminal property, one count of transferring criminal property and one count of failing to comply with a disclosure notice.

Fellow gang member Anca Fuioaga, 37, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for conspiracy to make and supply articles for fraud and transferring criminal property.

Ionel Baluta, 34, and Andrei Baloui, 32, manufactured the fraud machines from a shed in Colchester.

They were jailed in December 2016, alongside fellow gang members Anisoara Mitocaru, 34, from Radlett, Florin Enache, 40, from Dagenham and Dumitru Mihaila, 42, from East Ham, London.