Spanish National Police recently made several arrests relating to a global credit and debit card fraud which has affected thousands of people in the U.S.A., Spain, France, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Costa Rica. Police estimate the suspects have stolen 6 million euros ($7 million) from their victims, but the number could be even higher.

Six suspects arrested in global credit card scam

The Local reports that six suspects were taken into custody in A Coruña, Madrid and Zaragoza in Spain after the scams were detected and an investigation was run.

The suspects had obtained credit and debit card numbers by hacking electronic commerce security systems or by purchasing the illegal data from third parties. Once the suspects had the details and stole the cash, they laundered it via a complex network of fictitious companies, created for that purpose. The investigation was run in cooperation with the French National Police, Europol, Interpol and the FBI.

As noted by the statement from the National Police, investigations began when several victims filed complaints with a bank over numerous unauthorized transactions on their credit cards.

While the victims still had the cards in their possession, the charges had allegedly been made by a company in A Coruña, Spain without the consent or knowledge of those victims. The amount defrauded in those instances was around $17,000.00.

Ghost companies created to move the money around

Police found it difficult initially to trace the funds, as a number of ghost companies had been set up to handle the transaction to avoid police detection.

However, the company had branches in several countries, including Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, France, Panama, Spain and the U.S. After running investigations, it was found that the members of the illegal group in Costa Rica were the ones responsible for illegally obtaining credit and debit card information, by either bypassing e-commerce security systems online or by purchasing the information from third parties.

The Spanish branch of the organization set up ghost companies and contracted Point of Sale Terminals (POS) for those non-existent companies. Once they had the necessary credit card numbers, it was just a matter of running them through the POS.

Once the illegally obtained money was in hand, the suspects then transferred it to various ghost companies, both in Spain and overseas, to make it difficult to track down by police. However, unfortunately for the suspects, police did track down the Spanish members of the gang.

Two suspects were arrested in A Coruña, one in Madrid and three other suspects were taken into custody in Zaragoza, while more than twenty bank accounts set up by the ghost companies have now been blocked.

Various vehicles, computers and bank documents were also seized.

The Local reports that further arrests were made in France, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Panama and the U.S., but no further details were provided.