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International gang of card thieves busted, 178 arrested

Published: 23/06/2010 by Comments

Authorities across Europe, Australia and the US have taken 178 people into custody, in an operation that shut down an international cartel of credit card scammers which is alleged to have misappropriated as much as £17m.

According to source, the epicenter of the investigation was in Spain, where police confiscated 120,000 stolen credit card numbers and 5,000 cloned cards, detained 76 people and shutdown six card cloning labs. In total, 11 cloning labs around the globe were dismantled.

A total of 14 countries participated in the two-year investigation, which culminated in a total of 84 raids. The group’s strongholds in Romania, France, Italy, Germany, Ireland and the United States were all raided. Arrests were also made in Australia, Sweden, Greece, Finland and Hungary.

According to Spanish sources, members of the group are also suspected to be involved in armed robbery, blackmail, sexual exploitation and money-laundering. Paying shop workers around the world to pass on customers’ credit card details is said to be their modus operendi.

A spokesman for Spain’s National Police said that the group committed card fraud on a massive scale, and their ill-gotten gains are estimated to be in excess of £16.5 million. The sub-groups that the police apprehended in each of the 14 countries were said to have formed a global criminal network. According to the spokesman, the group made fake cards with fraudulently obtained numbers and used them to withdraw money or purchase goods.

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