Canadian police said Wednesday they have broken up an international fraud ring that drained some $100 million from the accounts of unsuspecting bank card holders.
Authorities arrested 45 people in a series of raids by members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, mostly in the Montreal region but also in Ottawa and Vancouver, a police spokesperson said.
Arrests warrants were issued for 61 people, all but one of whom were Canadian citizens according to police, who said that some 250 law enforcement officer took part in the dragnet.
Authorities said the network was active in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Tunisia.
The fraudsters divided their labors among its various members, with some specializing in filming and modifying ATM machines.
Other units of the crime ring specialized in stealing PIN numbers or hacking into computer terminals in stores, and while other cells forged counterfeit cards for massive illegal withdrawals.
In some cases, they modified point-of-sale machines from businesses and restaurants, rigging them using Bluetooth technology to read the credit and debit card information contained on the computer processors of the devices.
They then transferred the information onto blank debit and credit cards, which they later tapped to drain the rightful bank customers’ bank accounts.
The suspects face charges of racketeering, fraud, making counterfeit cards and identify theft.
[A bank debit card is swiped in 2010. Canadian police said Wednesday they have broken up an international ring specializing in bank card fraud that took in an estimated $100 million. AFP Photo/Tim Sloan]