A number of 56 individuals suspected of being part of a major credit card fraud ring have been arrested as part of a raid coordinated by Europol. This latest phase of Operation Cloning Connection brings the total number of arrests to 105.Of the 56 suspects, one has been arrested in the Netherlands, 17 in Italy and 38 in Bulgaria. This particular crime ring is suspected of targeting credit card holders from 20 European countries.
The crooks are believed to have made as much as 50,000 EUR ($65,000) per day or around 1.5 million EUR ($2 million) per month by using ATM skimmers to steal the credit card details and PINs of unsuspecting individuals.
During this operation, over 300 police officers from Bulgaria participated in the arrests. They also managed to disrupt the activities of an illegal payment card factory located in Plovdiv.
“The operation shows that Europol and its law enforcement partners are determined to crack down on this serious crime. Again, one of the most significant criminal groups active in this field has been taken out of business due to an excellent example of international police cooperation,” said Deputy Director of Europol Michel Quillé.
“Payment card fraud is a global challenge. Criminals with access to compromised payment card data distribute the data worldwide. In such cases, cross-border cooperation and coordination of international investigations is crucial to effectively tackling this problem.”
Operation Cloning Connection isn’t the only campaign of this type coordinated by the Europol. Last year, authorities arrested a total of 77 individuals suspected of taking part in similar fraud schemes.
Such law enforcement operations are highly welcome, considering that criminal organizations make around 1.5 billion EUR ($2 billion) per year from card fraud activities that target citizens of the European Union.