Polish National Police, working with the State Agency for National Security in Bulgaria and supported by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), have smashed an international group of payment card fraudsters. Five Bulgarian citizens responsible for misusing financial data from several countries, counterfeiting payment cards and making illegal electronic transactions, were arrested in Poland.
Two of the offenders were caught red-handed, carrying out illegal electronic payment card transactions at automated teller machines (ATMs). Another three suspects were stopped in two different hotels in Krakow. As police officers entered one hotel room, a perpetrator was in the middle of receiving compromised card numbers online and encoding counterfeit plastic cards. All arrests were coordinated and took place almost simultaneously on 22 January.
Complete equipment to produce counterfeit bank cards was seized and included magnetic strip readers and writers, computers, phones and flash drives. Police officers also confiscated dozens of forged payment cards with records of PIN numbers, ready to be used at other ATMs, and a vehicle worth over EUR 25 000.
The perpetrators went to Poland with the clear intention of misusing payment card accounts compromised in other countries. Bank card numbers were sent online to the fraudsters, enabling them to produce counterfeit cards on-the-spot.
The Head of the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), Troels Oerting, said: “This is another great example of joint efforts between Member States and EC3 to protect customers and electronic payments across the European Union (EU). Police forces in the EU are utilising Europol’s unique tools to make electronic payment transactions safer. We are continuously investing more resources into this vital support platform, and we can now see the results of this teamwork.”
During the investigation, EC3 supported the case by providing tailored intelligence analysis and expertise to the investigators. It was identified that the misused financial data came mainly from the United Kingdom. The investigation is still on-going and further arrests in the case are expected as suspects were working with gang members from Eastern Europe.
According to card fraud statistics published in July 2013 by the European Central Bank, about 20% of the value of all payment card fraud (EUR 232 million) results from ATMs, 25% from point-of-sale terminals (EUR 290 million), and more than 50% of the value of fraud (EUR 655 million) results from card-not-present payments such us payments made on the internet. With fraud involving ATMs, 95% of all counterfeit card fraud occurs outside Europe.
Watch the Video from the Polish Police official website in the .flv format.