Last Week, the Italian law enforcement corp Carabinieri, in a joint operation with the Europol, has dismantled an international criminal group responsible for large-scale ATM skimming, forgery of documents and money laundering. The operation was codenamed “PLUTO,” the gang used a consolidated scheme to monetize its efforts, the criminals compromised ATMs in different EU Member States (Italy, Denmark and the UK) in order to steal card data and clone them. The cloned payment cards were used to withdraw large amounts of cash from ATMs outside the European Union (Indonesia and Belize).
The “cloned” cards were mainly used alongside with fake documents to purchase clothing and electronic equipment (mobile phones, computers, etc.) and resold them in the criminal underground.
On 14 April 2016, the Carabinieri announced to have identified and arrested the members of the organisations, most of them are Romanian nationals, that used sophisticated ATM skimming to compromise ATMs across Europe.
It has been estimated that the gang has stolen at least EUR 1.2 million.
16 individuals were arrested in Italy where the police have conducted numerous searches seizing the equipment used by the gang. The agents have found Micro camera bars, card readers, magnetic strip readers and writers, computers, phones and flash drives, and of course plastic cards.
“Organised criminal groups are always looking for new global opportunities to make money, especially in the criminal market of payment fraud. Operations such as this highlight the importance of using Europol’s secure tools for exchanging intelligence and for coordinating the crucial operational stages involved in complex international cases. The resounding success of such an operation is not the first nor will it be the last, as police officers and prosecutors, alongside EC3, continue in their tireless endeavours to make payment transactions safer for customers throughout Europe and beyond.” said Steven Wilson, Head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3).
The investigation started in 2014, the Europol, provided a determinant analytical and forensic support to the Italian colleagues, a cooperation that allowed the police to identify and arrest the members of the gang.
The information collected during the investigation was also shared with other law enforcement agencies in Europe and overseas.
“Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) initiated the case in 2014 and supported the involved law enforcement authorities in their efforts to identify the suspects. Operational meetings were held at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague and EC3 provided analytical and forensic support throughout the investigation including the deployment of a mobile office during the final action day to assist the Italian authorities.” states the official announcement published by the Europol.
(Security Affairs – Cybercrime, ATM Skimming network)