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An article relating to this blog post on Finextra:

Europol cracks international skimming ring; calls on US to close EMV loophole

European and US law enforcement agencies have rounded up a cross-continental card skimming gang suspected of stealing more than EUR50 million from banks and consumers.


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Europol busts international cross border skimming operation

Operation Night Clone is a great success for Europol - not only has a major international skimming group been taken out of play, but Europol has again shown its operational teeth as a pan-European Law Enforcement Agency.  While the Operation was led by Italy, authorities from Bulgaria, Poland, Spain and the USA were also involved.  Europol took the lead by hosting meetings, running the Operational Centre and providing analytical, technical and logistical support.  This is just what Europe needs in the fight against the nimble organised cross border criminal groupings that have long been exploiting the issues relating to multiple national jurisdictions.

The two main criminal groupings involved in European skimming related crimes are from Bulgaria and Romania.  Now that the Bulgarians have been dealt a body blow, hopefully the Romanians are getting nervous.

The operation also highlights the point that the majority of losses relating to payment card fraud (on European cards) are now occurring outside of Europe in countries that have not adopted (or in the process of adopting) the EMV standard.  EMV has become the global standard for payment cards and hopefully this successful case will help those in the USA, such as the US Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, pushing for its adoption.  Three central European Bodies are now flagging this issue - The European Central Bank, the European Commission, and Europol.  From the private sector the European ATM Security Team (EAST) has published statistics showing the shift in skimming related losses from EMV compliant regions to non-EMV compliant ones.  Card issuers in several EAST member countries have already started geo-blocking magnetic stripe transactions made using EMV cards in non-EMV compliant regions.

It is good to finally see the issue of payment card skimming moving higher up the Agendas of national and international Government, Judicial and Law Enforcement agencies!

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