Authorities Crack Down on Bulgarian Credit Card Fraudsters, 25 People Arrested

Europol says authorities have dismantled Bulgarian fraud gang

Italy’s Comando Carabinieri Antifalsificazione Monetaria and the Bulgarian State Agency for the National Security’s Cybercrime division have cracked down on a group suspected of running a credit card fraud operation.

A total of 25 people have been arrested during the course of the investigation, which lasted for over a year. An additional 21 individuals have been detained. Seven of the suspects were arrested last week – three of them in Italy and four in Bulgaria.

2,000 blank payment cards, 250 skimming devices and over €50,000 ($69,000) in cash have been seized by law enforcement authorities.

The fraudsters are said to have placed skimming devices at bank ATMs in various European countries. The harvested information has been used to clone cards, which the crooks utilized to make fraudulent withdrawals at ATMs in Indonesia, Bali, the Dominican Republic, Kenya and the United States.

Europol has assisted investigators by deploying specialists from the European Cybercrime Center (EC3). EC3 experts analyzed phone bills and hard drives used by the criminal organization. Europol has also organized three operational meetings in which the arrests of key suspects were planned.

Europol says that the operation has been a success and that the entire credit card fraud gang has been dismantled. Several individuals have been charged.

In addition to cybercrimes involving ATMs, law enforcement agencies are also focusing on physical attacks against cash machines. Last week, more than 100 specialists – including police investigators, bomb technicians, the representatives of security companies and banking security experts – took part in the first EU Conference on ATM Physical Attacks at Europol’s HQ in The Hague, the Netherlands.

The event focused on the use of explosives in attacks against ATMs. Participants discussed the methods used by criminals, and possible ways to counter the phenomenon.

The Europol has coordinated a number of operations against fraudsters over the past period. Last week, the law enforcement agency announced a successful initiative against airline fraudsters.

As part of the operation, a total of 113 people were detained and 70 were arrested at airports in 32 countries, including Iceland, the US, Brazil, Colombia, Ukraine, Peru, Switzerland, and 24 European Union member states.

Earlier this year, law enforcement authorities in France and Romania, coordinated by Europol, dismantled a Romanian payment card fraud ring and arrested 11 individuals suspected of being involved in the operation.


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