Europol targets payment card fraud with new cybercrime unit

The new European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), which officially launches this week at Europol in The Hague, will be the focal point in the EU’s fight against cybercrime, Europol said in a statement.

The agency, EU’s criminal intelligence law enforcement arm, said that EC3 will mainly work to support EU institutions and member states in building operational and analytical capacity for investigations and co-operation with international partners.

Its mandate will include several areas, including online fraud, cybercrime that “causes serious harm to the victim such as online child sexual exploitation” and attacks on the critical infrastructure and information systems of the EU.

Payment card fraud in the EU has been on the decline in recent years, despite the large number of credit and debit cards in circulation – 726.9 million were issued in EU countries in 2011, according to European Central Bank data, cited by Europol.

Advances such as chip and PIN technology, offering better security than just magnetic strips, were the main reason, but organised crime groups still made about 1.5 billion euro a year in revenue from card fraud.

The main avenues of fraud were using duplicate cards in countries outside the EU, using cash machines and payment card terminals that did not make use of chip and PIN technology, as well as in transactions where the payment card was not present, such as mail order or online purchases.

Most of the credit card numbers misused in the EU come from data breaches in the US, Europol said.

(Photo: Wirawat Lian-udom/



The Sofia Globe staff

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