Poker playing brothers facing gaol over ATM scam

Poker playing brothers facing gaol over ATM scam

A Glasgow court has heard how two professional poker players exploited a glitch in HBOS ATM machines to steal over £150,000 with the intention of funding a gambling spree in Las Vegas.

Brothers Mohammed Imran, 33, and Mohammed Irfan, 36 - who were once rated among the top poker players in the UK - planned to use the cash to play in a series of high-stakes competitions including the Annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

The pair are thought to have made hundreds of withdrawals at cash machines across Glasgow between 29 May and 1 June 2005.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard how the brothers were able to exploit a loophole in HBOS's ATM programming system when it was overhauled following the merger of Halifax and Bank of Scotland three years ago.

This glitch, which has now been fixed, allowed the pair to by-pass ATM security by using an expired HBOS card.

The bank eventually became aware of the problem and traced the card to a newsagents in the Charing Cross area of Glasgow, which was found to be owned by the sister-in-law of one of the brothers accused. Reports says police raids uncovered £14,480 in a safe belonging to Imran and another £140,160 in a safe at Irfan's home.

The pair were initially charged with theft of £500,000, but pleaded guilty to stealing the £150,00+ cash sums discovered. They will be sentenced later this month.

A HBOS spokesman told reporters that the bank alerted the police after identifying the problem and no customers have lost any money as a result of the glitch.

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