Police arrest 42 in first-ever pan-European e-commerce fraud operation

E-commerce fraudsters have reached the end of their credit line, it was announced today, as police from 10 countries, led by Europol, swooped on 120 locations across Europe.

Europol is celebrating the operation as the first European-wide action on e-commerce fraud.

In total, 42 professional fraudsters were arrested for ‘carding' – ordering high-value good from online shops with stolen credit card information. It is thought they have performed a total of 3000 illegal online transactions for a total of €3.5 million (£3.14m).

Law enforcement authorities from Austria, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom, supported by Europol, teamed up in a coordinated joint action against those criminal networks, targeting the locations where illegally purchased goods had been delivered. Europol said specialists from its European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) were also deployed in the Member States to offer on-the-spot support to national authorities.

High-value goods were recovered from a number of the locations, with police seizing smartphones, tablets, watches and clothing, among other items.

The investigations have given police further leads, as many of the suspects are thought to be engaged in ID fraud, phishing, romance fraud, stolen passports, illegal immigration, money laundering and terrorism.

One fraudster was charged with fraud activities totalling €600,000 (£540,000) and a money laundering scheme valued at €1.5 million (£1.35m) was detected.

A spokesperson said: “This type of cooperation is an effective way of tackling payment card fraud while saving police resources. By working together and utilising Europol's unique capabilities, law enforcement authorities from Member States were able to piece together 3000 individual fraud investigations into 40 international cases. Merchants and banks contributed extensively to these investigations.”

Europol said the operation built on the success of a Europol-supported operation in the UK in June and is a practical continuation of the work of the E-Commerce Working Group, a private-public partnership network established in 2013 with the key stakeholders, including Merchant Risk Council, a network of 450 e-merchants.

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