Channel players are again being urged to watch out for fraudsters in the run-up to Christmas following a crackdown on a notorious global fraud ring.
A total of 28 people from seven countries were arrested this month, including one in the UK, after an operation between the US Secret Service, the National High-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) in the UK and other law enforcement agencies overseas.
A 19-year-old from Camberley, Surrey is suspected of being part of a global internet-based organised crime network dealing in identity theft, computer fraud, credit-card fraud and conspiracy.
During the investigation, three web sites - Shadowcrew, Carderplanet and Darkprofits - were allegedly being used by the criminals to traffic counterfeit credit cards and false identification details and discuss other frauds.
Acting detective chief superintendent Mick Deats, head of the NHTCU, said in a statement: "This investigation has resulted in the significant disruption of organised criminals using the internet for profit.
"We believe that the suspects have trafficked at least 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers, leading to losses by financial institutions running into the millions."
Eddie Pacey, director of credit services at Bell Microproducts Europe, said law enforcers were finally taking the issue of credit- card and identity fraud seriously.
"This is a bigger problem than people care to admit, but now the police are seeing the numbers involved they are putting more resources into it. Most people involved in this type of crime are organised gangs," he said.
Pacey added that criminals are now aware that procedures are being tightened and will be "making hay while the sun shines".
"I am amazed that people keep falling prey to these fraudsters, and I would advise VARs to do more checks in the run-up to Christmas," he said.
Nitin Joshi, partner at insolvency specialist PKF, said incidents of fraud, involving both card not present and identity theft, are on the increase in the channel.
"In the run-up to Christmas credit-control department staff are often on leave. Credit applications go to junior members of the department and orders are sent out without stringent checks," he said.
"These fraudsters have a pretty good knowledge of how internal systems work at this time of year and channel players should be on their guard."
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