Organized crime tampers with European card swipe devices

Customer data beamed overseas


Hundreds of card swipers used by retail stores across Europe are believed to have been tampered by organized crime syndicates in China and Pakistan, according to US National Counterintelligence Executive Joel Brenner.

Brenner told The Daily Telegraph that criminals have doctored chip and PIN machines either during manufacturing in China or shortly after leaving the production line in order to send shopper credit card account details overseas. The devices were then expertly resealed and exported to Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Belgium.

"Previously only a nation state's intelligence service would have been capable of pulling off this type of operation," Brenner told the publication. "It's scary."

Hundreds of devices have been copying credit and debit card details over the past nine months and sending the data by way of mobile phone networks to tech-savvy criminals in Lahore, Pakistan, The Telegraph reports.

MasterCard International has alerted stores in affected areas and determined doctored devices can most easily be revealed by virtue of weighing an extra three to four ounces due to the additional parts they contain. MasterCard first uncovered the plot at the start of the year after detecting suspicious charges to British and other European accounts.

The scam is believed to have resulted in the loss of tens of millions of pounds by criminals creating cloned cards, making phone or internet transactions, or withdrawing cash from the account. The Telegraph reports the thieves usually wait at least two months before using the stolen data in order to make it harder for investigators to determine what happened.

Brenner said the scam should motivate card swipe device makers to not only do more testing, but guard their supply chain in the same way jewelry suppliers do. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022