EU authorities round up 31 suspected in attacks on hundreds of ATMs

Authorities in Spain and Bulgaria, supported by Europol and Eurojust, have taken down an international criminal network of payment card fraudsters believed to be responsible for skimming attacks on ATMs that resulted in the loss of a total of 500,000 euros (US$560,650) by 3,000 EU citizens.

A Europol press release announced that the cross-border action netted a total of 31 suspects, with the arrest of 21 individuals in Spain, nine in Bulgaria and one in the Czech Republic.

Additionally, authorities conducted 48 house searches (14 in Spain and 34 in Bulgaria) and found equipment used to forge payment cards; payment card data reader-recorders; skimmers; micro cameras; devices to manipulate ATMs; and cash and counterfeit cards.

Between 2014 and 2017, the criminal network installed skimming devices on an average of 400 ATMs every year, according to Europol.

The stolen data was striped onto counterfeit cards and used in illegal transactions at 200 ATMs outside the European Union — mainly in the U.S., the Dominican Republic, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Peru, the Philippines and Costa Rica, the release said.

Eurojust assisted with coordination among the prosecuting and investigating authorities in Spain and Bulgaria; Europol provided tailored intelligence analysis and expertise to the investigators and deployed mobile offices to Spain and Bulgaria.

Additionally, a joint investigation team was set up between the cooperating countries with the assistance of Eurojust and Europol.

"Police forces in the EU are utilizing Europol’s unique tools to ensure that electronic payment transactions are made safer," Steven Wilson, head of EC3 at Europol, said in the release. "We are continuously investing more resources into this vital support platform, and now we are seeing the results of this essential work."

Topics: Security

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