Two men who purloined the details of thousands of credit cards from Chip and PIN terminals and used them to make counterfeits before stealing over £1 million have been jailed at a London Court.
Anup Patel and Anthony Thomas were found guilty of conspiring to steal and defraud at Croydon Crown Court yesterday. Patel - believed to be the mastermind behind the gang - was sentenced to six years in prison and Thomas to two years.
Police say the two men ran a fake credit card factory, using stolen data to manufacture counterfeit cards.
According to press reports, the card data was obtained by installing fake payments terminals with hidden data readers at petrol stations around the capital.
The fake cards were used to make purchases and withdrawals from ATMs - worth over £1 million - in countries where Chip and PIN is not used, including Thailand.
In October 2006 City of London Police raided Patel's office unit and home address. They found equipment used to produce fake credit cards, including magnetic strip cards capable of being re-written with skimmed data, lists of data annotated with PIN numbers and payments terminals.
DS Simon Russen, investigating officer, says: "Patel and Thomas were operating at the top end of credit card criminality. The potential losses on the card numbers recovered from the premises would account for in excess of £16 million worth of losses to the banking world."
In August UK police raided a counterfeit card factory in Birmingham and seized equipment that could be used to compromise retailer Chip & PIN terminals. Two suspects were arrested and charged with conspiracy to defraud.
Later that week a third man was arrested, believed to be the engineering brains behind a sophisticated programme to read and transmit customer PINs as they are entered at compromised Chip and PIN terminals in retailer check-outs.
The introduction of Chip and PIN has resulted in a sharp rise in the amount of fraud committed on UK cards abroad. In March figures released by UK payments association Apacs revealed that industry losses from plastic card fraud jumped by 25% to £535.2 million last year, driven by a hefty 77% rise in fraud committed on UK cards abroad.