Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) has been supportive of an 18-month EU-funded project designed to fight payment card fraud. Initiated by UK authorities, the project has resulted in the arrest of 59 individuals, 32 prosecutions and 17 convictions as well as the disruption of five organised crime groups found to be misusing electronic payments.
During the final meeting for Project Sandpiper in London, it was stressed that a total of 52,812 compromised card numbers were recovered during the operations, with estimated savings to the banking industry of over £23 million.
The EU-based criminals were misusing financial credentials in mainly remote overseas destinations.
Troels Oerting, head of the European Cybercrime Centre, said: “The criminal networks involved in this sophisticated electronic payment crime have been taken down as a result of many months of hard work by police officers and prosecutors in the European Union. Through the international co-operation of law enforcement authorities, the European Commission and Europol, as well as co-operation with organisation in the financial industry, European customers’ payment transactions are now safer.”
Oerting added: “We continue our fight against this crime. The criminals continue to develop new methods for stealing our identities, money and ideas online. On that basis, we must carry on further developing operations like Sandpiper.”
Card Not Present fraud increasing
According to card fraud statistics published by the European Central Bank in February last year, the phenomenon of Card Not Present (CNP) fraud is on the rise, now accounting for 60% of all fraud losses on cards issued in the European Union.
A new EU-funded project, codenamed Skynet, is launching this month and focuses on international co-operation to combat online CNP fraud. Six EU Member States are involved in the project.
EC3 at Europol has provided analytical support and organised regular co-ordination meetings on the project at its headquarters. In addition, Europol’s information and analysis systems have been used to exchange and cross-check the intelligence received from Member States.
Operations and projects such as Sandpiper and Skynet demonstrate the crucial role of the exchange of information and intelligence through Europol’s channels and the importance of international co-ordination for such operations.