An international swoop on payment card fraudsters – or ‘carders' – has resulted in the arrest of 15 suspects in Canada, Finland, Spain and the UK including an 18-year-old man in Birmingham.
Two teenagers aged 15 and 16 were also questioned by police in connection with the investigation.
At the same time that police were arresting suspects in the other countries, West Midlands Police organised crime unit raided three homes in Great Barr, Birmingham and Coventry. "We've played our part by executing warrants at addresses in the West Midlands suspected of being linked to the card scam investigation and cybercrime offences that's seen websites compromised and accounts taken over,” said Detective Inspector Rob Harris.
The investigation is looking into the fraudulent use of more than 6000 credit card details which had been used to attack more than 170 online retailers with losses estimated to be more than €1 million (£860,000).
It was initiated by the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation which has received assistance from the Spanish Guardia Civil, the British West Midlands Regional Cyber Crime Unit, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3).
According to Europol, the fraudsters would test the card details they had acquired by making an online purchase and then sell them on the dark web.
The group behind the fraud was keen to recruit young people into its operations, says Europol, and would even provide technical training for them.
EC3 is stepping up its efforts to support large-scale, cross border investigations in response to the growth in credit and debit card fraud.
It was only last month that Europol celebrated its first-ever pan-European e-commerce fraud operation.