Cross-continental operation brings down payment card fraudsters

On 14 and 15 November 2016, the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation, the Spanish Guardia Civil, the British West Midlands Regional Cyber Crime Unit together with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and with the support of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) teamed up in a cross-continental joint action day aimed at breaking down an international card-not-present fraud network.

payment card fraudsters

The operation took place simultaneously in Canada, Finland, Spain and the United Kingdom and resulted in 15 arrests.

Initiated by the Finnish authorities, the investigation uncovered that the members of the organised crime group (OCG) had in their possession more than 6 000 credit card details, which they had used to attack more than 170 e-merchants with fraudulent activities exceeding EUR 1 million.

After making the first purchase using the stolen credit card information, the criminal network uploaded and sold the data on a website available on the deep web with the purpose of it being re-used by other criminals.

This transnational operation is particularly important in the fight against credit and debit card payment and online fraud as the OCG was very active in their attempt to recruit new members of a young age, as well as providing them with the technical skills to perform this illegal activity.

EC3 contributed to the success of the investigation by producing analytical reports and hosting earlier this year an operational meeting at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague.

Noting the steady increase of credit and debit card payment and online fraud, Europol’s EC3 has stepped up its efforts to support large-scale cross-border investigations targeting online fraudsters.

On 9 November 2016, Europol supported the Romanian Police and Prosecutor’s Office to dismantle a large organised criminal group specialised in payment card fraud. 24 cybercriminals were arrested during this operation. Moreover, 42 professional fraudsters, members of internet based criminal networks, were arrested for online fraud activities at the end of October, during an operation coordinated by Europol from its headquarters in The Hague.

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Cross-continental operation brings down payment card fraudsters