Several European law enforcement bodies have collaborated on the takedown of a “network of payment card fraudsters”.
Announcing the results of the cross-border operation in an email press release, Europol estimates that 3,000 victims have lost roughly half a million euros.
Spanish and Bulgarian law enforcement bodies with support from Eurojust and Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) arrested 31 suspects in from Spain, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.
The suspects were found to be in “possession of equipment used to forge payment cards, payment card data readers-recorders, skimmers, micro-cameras, devices to manipulate ATMs, as well as cash and numerous counterfeit cards.”
Europol says that “between 2014 and 2017, the criminal network installed skimming devices at an average of 400 ATMs every year, to copy and clone the data contained on the bank cards.”
It added: “The forged cards were then used to make illegal transactions in 200 ATMs outside the European Union, mainly in the USA, the Dominican Republic, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Peru, the Philippines and Costa Rica.”
Steven Wilson, head of EC3 at Europol, said in the press statement: “Police forces in the EU are utilising Europol's unique tools to ensure that electronic payment transactions are made safer. We are continuously investing more resources into this vital support platform, and now we are seeing the results of this essential work.”
Francisco Jiménez-Villarejo, national member for Spain at Eurojust, added: ‘This successful operation confirms Eurojust's commitment to protect the assets of EU citizens from falling into the hands of cyber-fraudsters. An entire criminal network was taken down and, as a result, is no longer able to defraud innocent victims, thanks to the joint efforts of the Spanish and Bulgarian prosecuting authorities, and the valuable support provided by their National Desks at Eurojust.'