Bulgaria, Spain unplug electronic crime gang: Europol

THE HAGUE (AFP) - Bulgarian and Spanish police have busted an organised crime gang specialising in ATM "skimming", electronic fraud and using 3D printers, arresting 31 suspects in raids in the two countries, Europe's police organisation said on Wednesday.

Police swooped on 40 homes in Malaga in Spain as well as in Sofia, Burgas and Silistra in Bulgaria in "Operation Imperium", Europol said in a press release issued from its Hague-based headquarters.

Law enforcement officers dismantled eight criminal laboratories and seized more than 1,000 devices including micro cameras, card readers, magnetic strip readers and writers, computers, phones and flash drives as well as plastic cards ready to be encoded, Europol said.

"Moreover officers found 3D printing equipment to produce fake plastic card slot bezels ready to be installed on ATMs," it added.

The gang used stolen data "skimmed" from automated teller machines or so-called point-of-sale terminals around Europe including Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Turkey. They then created fake payment cards which they use to draw huge amounts of cash from unsuspecting victims' accounts in countries like Peru and the Philippines, Europol said.

The operation was led by the Spanish and Bulgarian police and coordinated by Europol's European Cybercrime Centre in The Hague.

Last week, Europol announced that police across the continent had arrested more than 1,000 suspects in an unprecedented swoop on organised crime groups.

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