Europol: International network of card fraudsters bust

A criminal network of Latvian payment card fraudsters has been taken down and eight suspects arrested, European police agency Europol said.

The European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) at Europol, working with police in Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Bulgaria, Spain, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom, took part in the operation to bust the crime group.

Some members of the network had previously been arrested in the Russian Federation.

The criminals were involved in compromising financial data during cash machine transactions across several EU and non-EU countries, Europol said.

Techniques used by the criminals were very sophisticated, rendering customers easy targets.

The group posed a major threat for electronic payments by misusing European payment card data in remote destinations such as Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Thailand and the US.

Several thousand EU customers, plus banks, were affected by the criminal network.

It is suspected that the cumulative activity of this criminal group has caused hundreds of thousands of euro in losses, Europol said.

EC3 provided operational and analytical support for the operation, codenamed FatBoy, as well as coordinating the international investigations.

Europol’s support also increased the efficiency of communication and crossborder analysis, Europol said. During operational meetings at Europol in The Hague, investigators from the countries affected agreed to the exchange of intelligence, through the Europol network of Liaison Officers (ELOs), and the co-ordinated actions on November 29 2013.

“Direct co-operation was key to the final success as evidence on bank transactions, financial information, CCTV pictures, internet communications and illegal equipment was seized in different countries,” Europol said.

EC3 head Troels Oerting said: “This is another great example of a successful joint effort between member states and EC3 to protect citizens in the EU.

“Police forces in the EU are utilising Europol’s unique tools to ensure that electronic payment transactions are made safer. We are continuously investing more resources into this vital support platform, and now we are seeing the results of this essential work.”

According to card fraud statistics published in July 2013 by the European Central Bank, about 20 per cent of the value of all payment card fraud (232 million euro) results from automated teller machines (ATMs), 25 per cent results from point-of-sale (POS) terminals (290 million euro) and more than 50 per cent of the value of fraud (655 million euro) results from card-not-present (CNP) payments such us payments via the Internet.

With regard to the fraud involving ATMs, 95 per cent of all counterfeit card fraud occurs outside Europe.

(Photo: Europol)



The Sofia Globe staff

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