International Cards RingCracked

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. - (03/07/06) -- Police in New Jersey, New York,Florida, Georgia and South Carolina arrested more than a dozensuspects over the past week they believe are responsible for anongoing credit card fraud that has hit dozens of credit unions andbanks throughout the country in the past few months. The suspectsarrested in the last week are related to a much bigger ring crackedlast year when almost 50 people were charged in New Jersey withstealing credit card information from numerous retailers, thenmanufacturing counterfeit cards to obtain cash and merchandise,according to Lt. Thomas Cooney, Detective for the Hudson CountySheriff's Office in Jersey City, N.J. The two groups are alsoloosely affiliated with another international credit card fraudring busted last year, known as, he said. Thesuspects in all three cases were recruited in chat rooms off theInternet by overseas entities who provided them with stolen accountinformation, then used they use the stolen information to massproduce counterfeit cards. Overseas accomplices of the ring wereable to make cash withdrawals and buy merchandise in far flungplaces like Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Pakistan, Spain, England andBulgaria, according to Cooney. Several members of the recent ringwere arrested with hundreds of counterfeit cards made out tomembers of North Carolina State Employees CU, who were hit for morethan $300,000 in fraudulent transactions. "They'd break into aretailer's system, steal the card information, then broker itoverseas," Cooney told The Credit Union Journal. "They sell them inthe U.S., Europe, South America, Asia; they're really all over theworld." It's not clear who was able to hack into the retailers'databases to steal the cards information, said Cooney. The leadersof the U.S., identified as Frank Robertson and Christopher Mack,pleaded guilty to identity theft charges last week. The U.S. SecretService is currently working with international law enforcement totrack down the foreign arms of the operation, he said. These arebelieved to be the same suspects who have raided thousands ofmember accounts at credit unions all over the country in recentmonths, according to Cooney. Some of the members of the ringtraveled throughout the east coast and used the counterfeit cardsto withdraw cash and buy electronics equipment, then either sellthe equipment to a 'fence' in New Jersey or on Internet auctionhouse eBay. Some of the cards recovered didn't even have a brand orissuer name on it, just the magnetic strip with the cardholder'sinformation. More than $5 million is believed to have been stolenfrom credit unions and banks by the cards ring, according toCooney.

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