A network of fraudsters spanning the US,
Australia and 12 European countries have been arrested following a
two year investigation into an international scam worth more than
£17 million.

The UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that
the investigation, which was initiated in Spain, discovered 120,000
stolen credit card numbers, 5,000 cloned cards and dismantled six
cloning labs. 178 arrests have been made and the detainees are also
suspected of armed robbery, blackmail, sexual exploitation and
money laundering according to Spanish police.

“They committed card fraud on a massive scale. We believe they
may have obtained more than £16.5 million in benefits,” a spokesman
for Spain’s national police told The Telegraph.

“Sub-groups set up in each of the 14 countries where police have
acted formed part of a global criminal network. They falsified
cards with numbers obtained fraudulently and used them to take
money out of machines or buy goods in stores.”

The Spanish police also advised The Telegraph that it
is suspected the gang paid off shop workers in countries around the
world in order to obtain customers’ credit card details.

Raids took place in Romania, France, Italy, Germany, Ireland and
the US, with arrests also made in Australia, Sweden, Greece,
Finland and Hungary.