Criminals make fortune from fake fuel and credit cards

Police in Spain and France have arrested 24 people suspected of involvement in fraud involving counterfeit fuel and credit or debit cards.

The organised crime group sold the cards to truck drivers and hauling companies which avoided paying fees by using them at motorway tolls, according to Europol, which supported the operation to disrupt the illicit activity along with the Fuel Industry Card Fraud Intelligence Bureau (FICFIB).

Over the course of the three-month Operation Andrea, approximately 30,000 fraudulent transactions linked to counterfeit cards used to cross toll barriers in Spain and France were investigated by the law enforcement agencies. They then initiated investigations to identify the license plates of the involved vehicles, with more than 600 located in Spain alone.

The action led to the identification of the criminal group operating mainly in the Spanish region of Catalonia, although the cards were also used on French highways. Police officers carried out 21 houses searches in Spain, and a total of 11 fraud cards factories were dismantled during the operation.

They also seized 15,000 counterfeit blank cards and several card readers and devices, alongside €19,770 in cash and four luxury cars. The estimated damage is estimated at this point at over €500,000.

Europol supported the Spanish authorities by providing analytical and operational support and by deploying a mobile office on the action day for on-the-spot support. The arrests were carried out in Spain by the Spanish National Police and the Guardia Civil.

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