Do you know what a fake credit card looks like? For many credit card fraudsters, the bread and butter of their game is being able to create counterfeit credit cards using stolen numbers. From there, they can make purchases and receive cash back, or buy high-ticket merchandise that can then be sold for the cash. For some thieves, it’s actually easier to create physical credit cards than to use stolen card numbers to make purchases over the Internet, since no mailing address is required!
So what do these counterfeit credit cards look like, and are they even close to the real thing?
Decide for yourself whether these counterfeit cards look authentic enough to pass for true plastic. All of these folks obviously ended up getting caught, so their cards either didn’t look real enough, or didn’t work correctly. Unlike counterfeiting hard currency, credit cards have to not only have to look perfect, but work perfectly as well.
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#10 Abu Dhabi Scammers
Two men, one Malaysian and one Singaporean, were arrested by authorities after being tipped off that the scammers would be arriving at the Abu Dhabi airport. The two men had run up a huge gambling debt which they paid back with a “loan” from an organized crime ring. When they were unable to pay back the crime syndicate, they were offered a way out: to buy expensive goods using fake credit cards, and bring them back to the Mob for reselling. In essence, they became human “mules,” and they ultimately paid the price.
#9 Sheer Bulk
Making phony credit cards in bulk is surprisingly easy. All you need are some magnetic stripe cards, a couple of computers and one of those fancy skimmers. The skimmer can be used to swipe and store the number by someone who has access to a large number of cards – say, a dishonest waiter or sales clerk. Then the card numbers can be loaded onto blank plastic. That’s the inside job these three Calgary-based men were doing when they were caught by police. For all that trouble, maybe next time they’ll work on a legitimate technology startup business!
#8 A Fake Credit Card Travel Kit
Australian officials confiscated these cards as well as a skimmer from a scammer. He was apprehended as he was trying to go through customs, although anyone dumb enough to travel internationally with this kind of evidence probably deserves to be caught. Note that a few of his fakes even had his name embossed on them—clearly a perfectionist.
#7 Manufacturing Fraud
These cards are compliments of a Malaysian crime syndicate, which was successfully producing them in great quantity, until their fake cards started popping up in Queensland, Australia. Australians don’t like credit card scammers. Within 24 hours, authorities had tracked down ten Australian members of the crime ring, uncovering the largest credit card scam in Queensland. The criminals used the fake credit cards to buy luxury goods (which could be resold for cash), and they also had a profitable side business making (and redeeming) fake debit cards.
#6 Why Not Set Up a Factory?
Canadian police nabbed three suspects that allegedly set up a factory to create these phony Visa gift cards. The thieves stole data by swapping out PIN pads at retail locations for modified pads that would grab customer card numbers and passcodes. From there, it was a simple matter to download remaining debit card balances onto one of these blank templates.
#5 Cards ‘N Guns
Police raided a home in Calgary, Alberta to find not only 50 forged credit cards, but a small cache of weapons as well. Part of an organized crime ring, the cards had been used to buy thousands of dollars of groceries and liquor, proving that at least some criminals use stolen credit cards to make everyday purchases. But the weapons were the scariest part—especially in Canada, where guns are heavily restricted, if not outright illegal.
#4 Major Operation
In an investigation that originated in Spain, police arrested 178 people all over the world in connection with a global scamming operation that netted over 5,000 fake cards and millions in fake transactions. The thieves had in their possession over 120,000 stolen credit cards that they obtained by paying individual shop owners to collect from unsuspecting customers. Here is a small sampling of some of the equipment they used.
#3 Fake Best Buy Cards
Targeting retail store cards is another favorite strategy of card thieves. This is often easier to do, because the store cards have fewer security features. Here you can see the results of a two-man team in Orange County, California. They were found with the stolen card information of 20,000 individuals. They would purchase items at Best Buy and then sell the items to people on eBay.
#2 Make ‘Em Gold!
Police in Boise, Idaho busted a fake credit card operation involving one man and one woman. They had come to Idaho from California specifically to use the cards above on unsuspecting merchants, then take their purchases back home to sell on the black market. Using gold and platinum cards was helpful in reassuring store owners that the duo was legitimate, at least until they started racking up thousands of dollars of fraudulent purchases. After that, it was fairly easy for police to track them down to their motel room.
#1 Take Those Cards to Thailand!
Tourist police in Thailand busted a Russian visitor using fake credit cards to have a delightful time in their country. Well, Thais don’t like being messed with on their home turf, so Mr. Ivan Azhimov, 21, is going to be spending some time in a Thai prison on his vacation. It turns out that the man had been busted in Thailand for the same offense in the past! Permanent deportation is likely in order.
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