On 9 November 2016, the Romanian Police and Prosecutor’s Office dismantled a large organised criminal group specialised in payment card fraud. Eighteen house searches were performed in six counties in Romania and 24 individuals were arrested.
Electronic devices, computers, mobile phones and around EUR 50 000 in cash were seized, alongside evidence found in a criminal laboratory used for manufacturing skimming devices.
The criminals had been travelling across several EU Member States, installing skimming devices at ATMs and self-service fuel stations, to copy the magnetic strip data from payment cards. The data was consequently used to produce fake payment cards with which cash was withdrawn in non-EU countries such as Nepal, the Philippines, Taiwan and the United States.
The 24 arrested are also suspected of establishing/supporting an organised criminal group, illegal software/hardware operations, payment card falsification, fraudulent financial transactions, and money laundering.
The investigation also led to the identification of a further 47 individuals involved in various activities within the criminal group, such as producing and installing skimming devices, payment card falsification, illegal financial transactions, and money laundering.
Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) supported Romanian authorities throughout the entire investigation, assisting with identifying the suspects and exchanging information with other law enforcement authorities. Several operational meetings were also held at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague. Europol’s cybercrime experts produced and delivered analytical reports on the criminal group’s international activities.