Europol Busts Credit Card Fraud Ring With 44 Arrests

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Body says 36,000 bank customers were affected by the illegal operation

Europol has announced 44 arrests as part of an investigation into a massive credit card fraud network, much of which lay in the UK.

Crooks had managed to tweak point of sale terminals in big shopping centres across Europe, using specially-created devices and software, to read people’s credit card numbers and PIN codes. It is believed 36,000 bank customers were affected by the credit card fraud.

Two workshops had been set up by the crooks to create the technology.

Arrest, court, legal © rimira Shutterstock 2012Credit card fraud operation

The mammoth law enforcement operation, which involved 400 police officers across the globe, also saw rafts on illegal electronic equipment, financial data, cloned cards and cash seized in the UK and Romania.

The criminal gang used counterfeit payment cards with stolen data to make illegal purchases in a range of non-European nations, including Argentina, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and US.

The Romanian Cybercrime Unit and Europol’s recently-opened European Crime Centre (EC3) led the bust.

“This case is another example of excellent police work and flawless cooperation and a proof of the fact that EU law enforcement cooperation continues to improve,” said Troels Oerting, head of EC3.

“This is a good sign for the future when increased cyber crime will become a great challenge for the LE community.”

It marks another success for EC3, which helped the various law enforcement agencies share data. Earlier this year, it was involved in an operation that saw another credit card fraud ring disrupted, with arrests in Helsinki.

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