Consumer electronics retailers who handed over millions of dollars worth of goods in a fake credit card scam could be forced to adopt a brand new credit card “pin system” similar to what has been implemented in Europe in an effort to stamp out theft.
According to the Australian Federal Police more than 1,200 fake credit cards were used between March and June to obtain a vast haul of goods including sound systems, flat panel TV’s iPods, notebooks and netbooks.
The scam came to light after the AFP arrested twenty-three people in Sydney, Melbourne, and Spain with police admitting that between$5 and $6 million dollars worth of goods were purchased in that period.
Police say Australia is a favoured target for criminal syndicates because shops accept a signature as identification instead of a pin number. Signatures are now being replaced by pin number identification across Europe.
In recent days security officials at several mass retailers have been approached to supply surveillance footage of the thieves purchasing goods. They have also confirmed that several specialist retailers were hit by the thieves.
The AFP said that the group had manufactured and distributed more than 200 fake credit cards a week and that they had carried out 11 raids, in Sydney and Melbourne this week and seized several credit card making systems.
Card identification used in the transactions were obtained using skimmers attached to ATM machines said the AFP.
Among those arrested was 53-year-old Tony Hancock from Homebush Bay, in western Sydney, who police say was running the syndicate.
Hancock allegedly obtained credit card numbers stolen from people in Australia, Spain, the UK and Malaysia using skimming machines at ATMs and online.
Police say he then passed the details onto 35-year-old Kha Weng Foong in Potts Point, in inner Sydney, who made credit cards using fake names.
Police say Hancock handed the credit cards on to 11 people in Sydney and Melbourne, who were directed to buy about $500,000 worth of goods per week. Among the retailers to have hit were JB Hi Fi, Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, Dick Smith and David Jones.
Officers have recovered $1.5 million of the $6 million spent on the swindle with several TV’s, iPods, home theatre kits and mobile phones now in the possession of the Australian Federal Police.