FBI, UK Authorities Kill Major Credit Card Scam

Dennis Faas's picture

An international law enforcement effort has taken down 36 websites allegedly responsible for selling stolen credit card information. In Europe, three men were arrested over claims they bought and sold the personal data.

The operation was led by the United Kingdom's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The two agencies oversaw raids in the UK, US, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, Ukraine and Australia. Officials say they have been working on the case for two years.

The three dozen disabled websites were allegedly offering packages of bank account numbers and credit card details. Each individual number cost as little as $3. Criminals apparently believe the price is worth paying for the possibility of illegal profits. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

Scam Operations Computerized

Officials noted the websites selling the credit card details were highly automated. They used automated vending carts very much like those employed by reputable retailer websites.

According to officials, criminals who buy these stolen numbers will often make a small test transaction to check that the card is still valid and working, despite being stolen.

If a small transaction proves successful, they immediately go for much bigger purchases. This is why financial experts urge cardholders to frequently check their statements or online accounts for suspicious transactions.

SOCA said its work over the past few years has prevented potential thefts amounting to more than half a billion pounds (approximately US$800 million), though it didn't explain the calculations behind this figure. (Source: computerworlduk.com)

Buyers, Sellers Both Behind Bars

As part of the law enforcement operation, two British men have been arrested for suspicion of buying credit card data from the websites. An alleged seller of stolen data in Macedonia has also been arrested.

Officials say they expect more arrests in the same case to follow.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency said its work was made harder by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that allow users to register domain names anonymously.

It said some scammers are using automated systems to anonymously buy thousands of site addresses, making it easier for them to evade detection.

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