Fraud investigators in Victoria are noticing a surge in the theft of credit card numbers by organized crime groups. Investigators say that the time, effort, and cost associated with growing and distributing drugs is causing gangs to turn to credit card fraud to make a profit. While small groups or individuals are often the ones executing the thefts, they often have links to much larger organized crime networks, and the stolen money is often used to buy drugs and weapons. Investigators say that criminals see credit card theft as a way to make easy money without the risks associated with drug trafficking.
Credit card theft gives criminals the ability to steal a huge amount of money with a minimal amount of effort. They tend to move quickly, collecting credit cards in one area then moving to another and using them to make large purchases. The most successful fraudsters steal credit card numbers in bulk by stealing PIN pads from small businesses and replacing them with tampered PIN pads equipped with blue tooth that give them access to clients’ credit card numbers. The thieves then use a card reader to create new cards with stolen magnetic stripes and make fraudulent charges on them. Purchases made on counterfeit cards accounted for a total of $105 million in losses in 2010 from MasterCard, Visa, and American Express.
The anonymous nature of the crime and the criminals’ tendency to move quickly makes fraudsters difficult to catch. In March 2012, four men were caught trying to steal a PIN pad from a frozen yogurt store in downtown Victoria. Further investigation revealed that the men had been actively stealing cards from Alberta and British Columbia for months. They were in possession of 60 counterfeit cards and four stolen pin pads. Police are speculating that the men may have stolen over 1000 card numbers before their arrest. In just a few days, they managed to run up thousands of dollars in charges on stolen cards, by buying luxury merchandise, fancy dinners and liquor. The men are each now facing 16 fraud-related charges.
Though investigators have noticed an increase in fraud in Victoria, research from financial institutions indicates that credit card fraud rates across the country are generally declining. The decline in the theft of credit card numbers is attributed mainly to a security chip that is now being placed in many new cards, which runs a security check with your financial institution as it is swiped. The security chip is expected to be in all cards by the end of 2012. If you’re looking for new credit cards. At eCreditCards, we feature the best offers on rewards credit cards, travel credit cards, and many other types of cards from leading financial institutions, so you can rest easy knowing your money is in good hands.