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From: Jon Turner (jjturnergmail.com)
Date: Sat Oct 11 2008 - 16:20:09 CDT
European law-enforcement officials uncovered a highly sophisticated
credit-card fraud ring that funnels account data to Pakistan from
hundreds of grocery-store card machines across Europe, according to
U.S. intelligence officials and other people familiar with the case.
Specialists say the theft technology is the most advanced they have
seen, and a person close to British law enforcement said it has
affected big retailers including a British unit of Wal-Mart Stores
Inc. and Tesco Ltd.
The account data have been used to make repeated bank withdrawals and
Internet purchases, such as airline tickets, in several countries
including the U.S. Investigators haven't pinpointed the culprits.
Early estimates of the losses range of $50 million to $100 million,
but the figure could grow, said the person close to British law
The scheme uses untraceable devices inserted into credit-card readers
that were made in China.
The devices selectively send account data by a wireless connection to
computer servers in Lahore, Pakisan, and constantly change the pattern
of theft so it is hard to detect, officials say.
"Pretty small but intelligent criminal organizations are pulling off
transnational, multicontinent heists that only a foreign intelligence
service would have been able to do a few years ago," said Joel F.
Brenner, the U.S. government's top counterintelligence officer.
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