Police in London have raided a flat in Enfield that was doubling up as a sophisticated counterfeit credit card factory.
Officers from the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) made a forced entry into the north London flat and arrested three males and one female.
Electronic devices including card skimming machines, embossers, presses and a laptop computer were found – all the equipment needed to create counterfeit credit cards.
Officers also recovered more than 380 fake cards and compromised card numbers, resulting in potential savings to the industry of more than £270,000.
Of those arrested three were bailed pending further enquiries and one, a 22 year-old male, was charged with conspiracy to defraud.
DCI Bob Gurr, acting head of the nine month-old plastic crime unit comments: "Since its launch the Unit has been involved in operations that have resulted in 30 arrests and the recovery of more than 2300 counterfeit cards and compromised card numbers. As a result of this work, estimated fraud loss savings to the UK stand at more than £4 million."
The DCPCU was set up as a two-year pilot by the Association for Payment Clearing Services (Apacs) and the Home Office to fight the organised crime syndicates behind steep rises in UK plastic card fraud losses. Counterfeit card fraud was blamed for £155 million in losses during 2002, up from £50.3 million in 1999.
The banking and retail industries are preparing to trial a new chip and PIN system in Northampton that is designed to stop counterfeit card crim at the point-of-sale. By 2005 the vast majority of face-to-face debit and credit card transactions will be authorised by the customer keying in a four-digit number rather than signing a receipt.