Europol and law enforcement agencies dismantled a criminal ring specialized in ATM attacks and payment Card Fraud

Pierluigi Paganini December 02, 2017

Law enforcement agencies dismantled a criminal ring and arrested four key members responsible for ATM attacks and performing illegal transactions.

European law enforcement agencies announced the success of an operation called “Neptune” that allowed to dismantle a criminal ring and arrest of four key members responsible for stealing payment card data and performing illegal transactions.

The investigation supported by the Europol, involved law enforcement agencies in Italy, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic.

“The operation run by the Italian Carabinieri, in cooperation with the Bulgarian General Directorate of Combating Organised Crime, and the National Police of Czech Republic, supported by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) culminated today with the arrest of four Bulgarian citizens.” states the press release published by the Europol

“The leaders of the transnational criminal group actively supervised all stages of criminal activities, including placing technical equipment on ATMs in the central areas of European cities, producing counterfeit credit cards and subsequently cashing out money from ATMs in non-European countries, for example Belize, Indonesia and Jamaica.”

The four criminals were arrested on November 30, 2017, they are all Bulgarian citizens.

Crooks targeted ATMs in central areas of European cities to steal credit card data by placing skimmers and hidden cameras. The stolen data were used to clone the cards and use the fake cards to cash out money from ATMs in non-European countries, including as Belize, Indonesia and Jamaica.


Investigators identified dozens of ATMs that have been compromised by the crooks.

Law enforcement seized more than 1,000 counterfeit credit cards and collected of evidence of many fraudulent international transactions worth more than EUR 50,000.

“The coordination and exchange of intelligence has been supported by the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) set up at Europol. Since most of the illegal transactions with counterfeit cards took place overseas, the cooperation through dedicated investigative networks set up by Europol has been instrumental.” continues the press release.

In September, a report published by the Europol warned of a rise of cyber attacks against ATM machines. Criminal organizations are targeting ATM machines through the banks’ networks, the operations involve squads of money mules for the cashout.

Earlier this week, Europol shared the results of the European Money Mule Action ‘EMMA3’, a global law enforcement operation against money mulling. The operation resulted in 159 arrested, 409 suspects interviewed, and 766 money mules and 59 money mule organizers identified.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – cybercrime, ATM skimming)

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