Police Cast Dragnet In Credit CardFraud

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. - (03/08/06)--Police have issued more arrestwarrants in what is believed to be a large international creditcard fraud, forcing credit unions and banks from coast to coast tocancel cards to prevent overseas crooks from accessing theircustomer accounts. So far, 15 suspects have been arrestedthroughout the East Coast and two more are being hunted via arrestwarrants, while still others are expected to be arrested in thecoming days, according to representatives of the Hudson CountySheriff's Office, which is heading the investigation. Guilty pleasare piling up quickly, as the participants seek to avoid long jailterms, according to Detective Thomas Cooney, who is leading theinvestigation for the Hudson County Sheriff's Office. Fourindividuals pleaded guilty in the case last week, just weeks afterbeing arrested, and three more are scheduled to enter guilty pleasnext week. "They know we've got them," Cooney told The Credit UnionJournal of the rapid guilty pleas. The gang is believed to havehacked into the databases of numerous retailers to obtainconfidential credit card information, then used the information tomanufacture counterfeit cards, which were then used to withdrawcash from ATMs or buy merchandise–more than $2 million worthof unauthorized transactions on credit union and bank accounts.Officials at State Employees CU in North Carolina said the creditcard thieves have used the credit union’s cards to steal asmuch as $200,000. Much of the transaction activity was conductedfrom overseas locations in places as far flung as Russia, Latvia,Estonia, Pakistan, Spain and England. The credit union has replacedmore than 20,000 cards as a result of the latest case, the thirdtime in the last year the credit union has been forced to replaceas many as 20,000 cards.

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