47 individuals were arrested on Wednesday by the officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police following an investigation of a highly organized and disciplined criminal ring that has managed to steal at least $7 million via cloned bank cards.
During four long years, the ring worked like a well-oiled machine.
The ringleaders decided which ATMs and POS machines would be compromised, when and how; the “technicians” would steal the POS machines from shops and restaurants, outfit them with skimmers in less than an hour, and return them to the businesses before the start of another day; and the money runners would use the cloned cards simultaneously at many ATMs across the country.
The money runners would be given a locked box full of cloned cards and take their positions at various ATMs at different hours of the day. Once they were called by a ringleader and given the combination to open the box, they would proceed to use the cards one after the other and pocket the stolen money.
According to the Wired, in one particular instance the money runners stationed at 23 different ATMs used 79 cards to steal $30,000 in under five minutes.
The gang operated in the greater Montreal area, and the police began investigating the case after a number of banks complained about the thefts in 2008.
In the final raids in Quebec and Ontario, 46 suspects were apprehended, while a dozen more managed to evade arrest and are on the run. The police says that the gang had international ties – accomplices in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Tunisia and England.
Over 12,000 cloned bank cards, some 200 POS machines, other devices, guns and money were also sized during the raids.
The arrested individuals have been charged with multiple counts of fraud, identity theft and gangsterism.