The law enforcement operation, “eCommerce Action 2017”, was coordinated by the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) to take down cyber criminals who are using stolen financial information, with the main focus on credit and debit cards, to purchase goods from eCommerce stores.
According to the Europol, the 76 arrested suspects were responsible for conducting over 20,000 fraudulent transactions using compromised credit cards worth over 5 million euros. In the operation, financial institutes, e-merchants, logistics firms, and credit card issuers provided law enforcement authorities information to help the investigation against the fraudsters.
The Europol, along with the national and regional police departments, focused on dismantling the organized criminal networks that were behind the large-scale fraud operation. The European law enforcement agency identified 200 websites and social media accounts, which had more than 100,000 followers or customers in some cases, as being used to sell products, which were purchased using stolen credit card information. The police action targeted the addresses where the illegally bought goods were sent to by the criminals.
In the course of the law enforcement operation, investigators seized hundreds of packages being sent from e-commerce stores. Police officers searched more than a hundred locations in 26 countries seizing expensive electronics, including tablets and smartphones, as well as clothes and watches.
During e-Commerce Action 2017, investigators managed to connect some of the suspects to other crimes, including cyber attacks, illegal use of stolen passports, identity fraud, phishing, and online child exploitation.
Credit card fraud against online shops is considered as a high profit and low-risk criminal activity with losses for the European sector exceeding 1 billion euros annually.
In Austria, law enforcement authorities arrested two suspects and seized 14 packages in connection with e-Commerce Action 2017. The Federal Criminal Police Office (BK) reported on June 21 that, at one of the suspects, they had found child pornography material on a laptop. Law enforcement authorities suspect the other defendant of the district of Villach-Land that he had bought drugs from the dark web, however, police did not provide more information on the case.
Ireland was also affected by the Europol action: law enforcement authorities performed six house searches and arrested one suspect in Dublin. The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau searched locations in Balbriggan, Tallaght, Drimnagh, and Tyrrelstown. Just in Ireland, police managed to recover 100 compromised credit cards, which were issued in the United States.
Garda announced that they are teaming up with retailers to combat the growing spike in card not present (CNP) fraud. In the first half of 2016, credit card fraud caused 20 million euros of damage, with 75 percent of the crimes happening when a card was not present.
One recent target of credit card fraud was a major national sports retailer in Ireland, which recorded 172 successful and attempted purchases during two weeks in March from its online store using compromised credit cards from the United States. If all 172 attempts were successful, the store would have lost approximately 16,000 euros in revenue.