NEWS

3 held for huge credit card scam

THESSALONIKI (AP) – Three Bulgarians were arrested with more than 200 copied French credit cards used in a scam worth an estimated one million euros, police said yesterday. The three men – aged 25, 35 and 41 – were arrested on Wednesday after police had staked out Thessaloniki automatic teller machines for the past 10 weeks. The suspects, whose names were not announced, were charged with multiple counts of fraud, forgery, money laundering and forming a criminal gang. In a raid on the suspects’ hotel, police found 233 copied credit cards, 423 blank cards, and a hand-held card writer. Christos Radopoulos, head of Thessaloniki’s crime squad, said the three men allegedly obtained credit information on French holders and used the writer to store the data onto blank cards. Withdrawals, mostly in small amounts, were made from banks in Athens, Thessaloniki and three other Greek cities. «We are not yet in position to say how they stole the information on the cards,» said Radopoulos, who speculated that computer hackers may have been involved. Investigators have so far accounted 65,000 euros in transactions allegedly carried out using the «skimmed» cards, but police estimated at least one million euros had been stolen. Police were alerted to the card scam after banks reported that dozens of blank cards had been kept by their ATMs. Security camera footage from one bank was used to identify one of the Bulgarian suspects. «We had been trying to find the suspects for some time,» said Sotiris Galanis, head of Thessaloniki’s fraud squad, who took part in the investigation. «We had been monitoring ATMs in the city for two and a half months.»