June 19, 2018

95 arrests have been made across Europe following a joint law enforcement operation targeting online fraudsters between 4 and 15 June 2018. The suspects arrested during the operation are believed to be responsible for more than 20,000 fraudulent transactions using compromised credit cards, with an estimated value exceeding EUR 8 million (£7 million). The action was coordinated by Europol, working closely with law enforcement, the banking industry and retailers across 28 countries.

The operations in the UK were led by officers from the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU). Nine search warrants were executed across the country, resulting in four interviews under caution and two arrests – one in Bolton and another in London. During the searches valuable intelligence was gathered and several devices that were suspected of being used to commit remote purchase fraud were seized. Ongoing investigations are now underway that are expected to result in further arrests and charges.

Several of the fraudsters targeted during the operations were using social media to commit remote purchase fraud. Often, criminals will offer goods to buyers for a heavily discounted price via social media and then use stolen card details to make the purchase. The buyers’ card details are then usually stolen and passed on to other fraudsters.

The operation has been followed by the launch of an awareness-raising campaign on social media –#BuySafePaySafe – by Europol and law enforcement agencies across Europe. This complements UK Finance’s Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, which provides customers with advice to help them stay safe from fraud and scams.

T/DCI Glyn Whittick, head of the DCPCU, commented:

“The success of these operations shows how through close cooperation with our European partners, retailers and the financial sector, we are cracking down on the criminal gangs targeting consumers online.

“Ongoing investigations are now underway and we will continue to work together to bring those committing remote purchase fraud to justice.

“Fraudsters are increasingly targeting people through social media so it’s vital that everyone follows the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and keeps their details safe. People should also remember when shopping online that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

Ends

Notes to Editor

  1. For more information, please contact the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU) press office on 0207 416 6750 or press@ukfinance.org.uk
  2. The DCPCU is a unique pro-active police unit, with a national remit, formed as a partnership between UK Finance, the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police together with the Home Office. It is fully sponsored by the cards and banking industries, with an on-going brief to investigate, target and, where appropriate, arrest and seek successful prosecution of offenders responsible for card, cheque and payment fraud crimes. It is headed up by a Detective Chief Inspector and comprises officers from the Metropolitan and City of London police forces who work alongside banking industry fraud investigators and support staff. Established in April 2002, the DCPCU has since achieved over £500 million in savings from reduced fraud activity.
  3. According to Europol, social media is increasingly being used to create selling profiles (shops), advertising products at half price. When you order something with them, the fraudsters conduct the – often very expensive – purchases with compromised credit card data. When making these purchases on their websites, victims may not realise that their card data is also often being stolen, to then be resold by the vendor on another fraud forum.
  4. Europol has published a number of safety rules that can be followed in order to avoid becoming a victim of fraud:
  • Make sure the device you are using to make online purchases is properly configured and the internet connection is safe;
  • Using a card is a safe method of payment in online shopping as long as you exercise the same care as in other shopping, there are simple warning signs that can help you identify the scam. If you are a victim of online fraud, report it to the police. If you bought the product with a credit or debit card, report it to your bank as well;
  • Check your online banking service regularly. Notify your bank immediately if you see payments or withdrawals that you have not made yourself.
  • Read more about safe online shopping on our dedicated page: E-Commerce: Tips And Advice To Avoid Becoming A Fraud Victim. https://www.europol.europa.eu/activities-services/public-awareness-and-prevention-guides/e-commerce-tips-and-advice-to-avoid-becoming-fraud-victim
  1. The Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign sets out advice on how consumers can stay safe from fraud and scams.