An Asian criminal network responsible for worldwide illegal internet transactions and purchasing of airline tickets has been closed down.
The European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) at Europol worked closely with Finnish law enforcement authorities to investigate the gang. As a result, two gang members travelling on false documents were arrested at Helsinki Airport and some 15,000 compromised credit card numbers were found on their computers.
Details of cardholders around the world were found to have been misused, with losses in Europe alone amounting to over 70,000 Euros. The law enforcement agencies also uncovered evidence of further criminal activities in large scale international payment fraud and illegal immigration. EU and international cooperation, forensic examination of seized electronic evidence and the support of the financial services sector all contributed to the operation's successful outcome.
Investigations into sophisticated online fraud are highly challenging for national police forces in Europe. Troels Oerting, Head of the European Cybercrime Centre, commented: ”In this case, the commitment of the Finnish Border Guard and National Police, coupled with the close international cooperation facilitated by Europol’s EC3, has been crucial for investigating this sophisticated scam. As the central point in Europe for tackling cybercrime, EC3 will continue to proactively support other investigations of this nature.”
EC3 and Visa Europe recently initiated international cooperation between law enforcement agencies and industry to reduce this kind of fraud. Europol estimates that losses caused by payment fraud in Europe total 1.5 billion euros a year.