Law enforcement has arrested four individuals for having tampered with ATMs in multiple European cities and created counterfeit credit cards.
On 30 November, Europol announced the arrests of four Bulgarian citizens. The individuals are believed to have tampered with dozens of ATMs in the centers of European cities by equipping them with skimming devices such as micro cameras and magnetic strip readers. They’re also accused of creating counterfeit cards and making fraudulent transactions at ATMs outside of the European Union including in Belize, Indonesia, and Jamaica.
An investigation into the four alleged members of the international criminal network began back in the end of 2015. Supported by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), the operation came to a close approximately two years later when officers with the Italian Carabinieri, Bulgarian General Directorate of Combating Organised Crime, and National Police of Czech Republic arrested the individuals. As part of the takedown, they also seized 1,000 counterfeit credit cards and evidence of several international ATM transactions worth more than 50,000 EUR.
Europol, which has a history of assisting international law enforcement operations, is pleased by the outcome of this cooperation. As quoted in a press release:
A key factor for the successful dismantling of this criminal organization was the close police cooperation between police forces from Italy, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, supported by Europol. Working closely with the banking sector, law enforcement made another significant step towards making electronic transactions safer in the European Union.
Ordinary users can protect themselves against ATM skimmers by avoiding terminals that indicate signs of tampering. If they detect anything suspicious, they should notify the bank and call the local police. Additionally, they should monitor their bank accounts and credit reports for any suspicious transactions.
News of these arrests follows less than two weeks after federal and local authorities in the United States arrested eight individuals in connection with a credit card skimming scheme that caused losses in excess of $3.5 million.