Police in Europe Arrest 105 Over International Bank Card Fraud
European authorities detained 105 people and indicted another 14 for their alleged role in an international scheme that defrauded 12 million euros (US$14.4 million) from banks based in the United States.
The Spanish National Police and the U.S. Secret Service said they dismantled the criminal network, which allegedly defrauded more than 50 American financial institutions, in an investigation that involved Europol and law enforcement of seven European countries where the gang members operated.
The eighteen-month-long investigation is the largest international probe to date against bank card fraud, Spanish authorities said in a statement on Wednesday.
Police searched 88 locations, including a hotel in eastern Spain where the criminal network is believed to have set up its operation center in 2017. As a result, authorities have blocked 87 bank accounts in Spain and several other European countries, freezing more than 1.3 million euros ($1.56 million).
Officers also seized more than 400,000 euros ($479,000) in cash, 14 luxury vehicles, fake identification documents, guns and over 200 bank cards.
According to Europol, the criminal organization defrauded the financial institutions through U.S. shell companies and a complex scheme that exploited the difference in payment acceptance between American and Spanish banks.
Police determined that the gang carried out its activities in 16 countries and was planning to open two new operation centers in Austria and Greece before it was dismantled.