31 arrests in operation against Bulgarian organised crime network

Europol-OperationImperiumBulgarian and Spanish judicial and law enforcement authorities, working in close cooperation with Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) in The Hague, have dismantled another significant Bulgarian organised crime network suspected of a variety of crimes including large scale ATM skimming, electronic payment fraud and forgery of documents.

‘Operation Imperium’, for which the action day was 30th September 2014, resulted in the arrests of 31 individuals and 40 house searches. Eight criminal labs, including two very complex modern production sites for skimming equipment and counterfeit documents in Sofia and Malaga, were discovered and dismantled.

More than 1000 devices, micro camera bars, card readers, magnetic strip readers and writers, computers, phones and flash drives, as well as plastic cards ready to be encoded, were seized. Moreover officers found 3D printing equipment to produce fake plastic card slot bezels ready to be installed on the ATMs and manipulated POS terminals. Police officers also confiscated dozens of forged payment cards with records of PIN numbers, ready to be used at other ATMs.

The primary modus operandi of the criminals and their associates was to harvest financial data from ATMs or tampered POS terminals in different areas of Europe (e.g. Italy, France, Spain, Germany, and Turkey), which they then used to create fake payment cards. The fake cards could then be used to withdraw large amounts of cash from ATMs outside the European Union (e.g. in Peru and the Philippines).

For more information, including some related images, see the press release on the Europol website https://www.europol.europa.eu/content/31-arrests-operation-against-bulgarian-organised-crime-network

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