UK banks hit by card cloning gang; NY police bust skimming ring

UK banks hit by card cloning gang; NY police bust skimming ring

UK banks have lost millions of pounds to an international card cloning gang operating out of petrol stations across the country.

About 200 of the UK's 9,500 petrol stations are thought to have been hit and police are investigating complaints made in Edinburgh, Norwich, Bury St Edmunds, Peterborough, Nottingham, Leeds, Bristol and Hull.

Card cloning - in which plastic cards presented for payment are skimmed and PIN codes observed as they are punched into Chip and PIN terminals - is estimated to have drained up to £30 million from UK accounts last year.

In an interview with the BBC, Maxwell Keegel, first secretary of the Sri Lankan High Commission in London, pointed the finger at rebel Tamil Tigers. Police say there is no definite link to the Tamil diaspora.

In the US, meanwhile, 13 people were indicted Friday on charges related to an organised credit card skimming operation that resulted in more than $3 million worth of illegal purchases across the country. The credit card data was ripped from paying customer at restaurants in Manhattan's Chinatown and other parts of the New York metropolitan area, as well as food halls in Florida, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Announcing the bust, Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau says police found 296 cloned credit cards, $200,000 cash, numerous Rolex watches and expensive handbags at the Brooklyn home of the alleged ring leader. He says the conspirators operated in about 40 restaurants from November 2005 until this week.

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