Computer Crime Problems Research Center

By Pavel Berzin


The Investigations Peculiarities of the Plunders

Made with Counterfeit Bank Payment Cards Use


Plunders with counterfeit bank payment cards (further: BPC) use as a serious problem, in Ukraine has been extended in second half 90th years. It is connected to that, down to today's time the domestic card market is in a stage of becoming. And not looking that in many cases during of plunders the counterfeit BPC are used, their investigation continues to cause significant difficulties.


The plunders with counterfeit BPC use cause the biggest damage to payment system. Electronic payments with BPC use of various kinds represent a floppy and universal mechanism of settlements in a chain " Bank 1 - the Client - Bank 2 " and interbank settlements such as " Bank 1 - Bank N ". Universality of such payment tools makes them especially interesting for a fake and plunders. The application of high technologies in various areas of financial activity, in particular at BPC use, does not exclude an opportunity of a various sort of abusing. Occurrence of plastic payment means in the clearing settlements system has inevitably generated alternative ways of offences. Swindle become more and more refined, and protection more and more smart, and so indefinitely [1, p. 49].


The analysis of materials of criminal cases on plunders with counterfeit BPC use, testifies that there are certain difficulties for operative workers and inspectors in disclosing and investigation of such crimes. They are caused, first, by a number of the features objectively inherent in this kind of criminal activity, and second, - imperfection of technology knowledge of modern payment systems functioning (subjective factors).


The given features can be divided into some groups. The first group makes such plunders latent. Quite often between the moments of fulfillment of a crime with use counterfeit BPC and revealing of this fact passes long time. It is caused, first of all by the majority of the facts of plunders of money resources with use counterfeit BPC is established by owners when they reveal suspicious changes at their current bank bills. To reveal such changes the bank client can only at the end of a month, after removal from the bill spent the sums of money resources during this time. So, on January 2, 2002 Office of Public Prosecutor AR Crimea had been excited criminal case concerning the manager of a trading house "C". "C" in arrangement with person "P" the on September 17, 2001, using counterfeit PBC " Master Card ", has stolen a fax (for the sum 930 UAH.) in one of the Simferopol shops of computer techniques.


In a course of investigation the person "K" which on September 28, 2001 used counterfeit BPC " Master Card " and plundered the money of 1 thousand UAH in "the International commercial bank " (Simferopol) also has been arrested. After fulfillment of the given criminal actions in September, 2001 victims had been appealed against write-off of money from the settlement account. To understand this situation, in Crimea it was required to operative divisions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine about one half-year. During this time swindlers had an opportunity some more time to use counterfeit BPC.


The second group of features includes an interrelation of a way of BPC fake and the mechanism of fulfillment of plunders with their use. They distinguish full and partial BPC fake. It is necessary to note, that the organized criminal groups make such criminal acts, as a rule. The structure of such groups includes workers of banks, trading and serving establishments [2].


The mechanism of swindle fulfillment with use counterfeit BPC can be various. The member of a criminal grouping can become BPC owner in the lawful order. He can enter the minimal sum of money to the special card bill, then, by means of accomplices, (working in bank, trading and serving establishments), gets the necessary information on BPC holder of same company, but with more solid bill (the information on code numbers, surnames, a name of BPC owner, about a sample of the signature, etc.). For entering the received new data into the BPC, accomplices in a holding time of such client by means of the special device imperceptibly copy contents of magnetic tracks of his BPC. Then swindlers make the following actions:


) Change the information contained on a magnetic disk;

b) Change the information on BPC face sheet;

c) Make both that, and another;

d) Forge the signature of the lawful cardholder.


Sometimes criminals forge, and further use for swindle stolen or lost BPC.

The opportunity of copying by criminals of contents of magnetic tracks compels to enter companies - operators into the manipulation the plastic payment means equipped with the microprocessor which carries in itself the information on a status of the bill of the client (so-called smarts - maps).


The greatest threat for financial establishments is represented with completely counterfeit payment cards. Before such way of a fake has was extended in the countries of Southeast Asia, however recently it is extended in Europe, in the countries of the European part of the CIS. Such way is used by organized criminal groups (OCG) into which workers of restaurants and other service institutions, as a rule, enter more often. They are necessary for gathering the information on credit payment cards, which get hold of them at payment of restaurant and other services when they for a while disappear from a field of vision of the owner. And when come back, criminals on hands still have its duplicate. The payment cards forged thus are used for fulfillment of plunders as by members OCG, and other persons by whom these maps have been bought.


Example of activity of the international criminal groupings in Ukraine is plundering with use counterfeit BPC "VISA", accomplished in Donetsk by the citizen of Nigeria. During investigation of criminal case it has been established, that in January, 1999 the foreigner, using counterfeit BPC "VISA" for the name, has stolen from Donetsk branch of the First Ukrainian international bank 500 US dollars, having received their in cash, and having got at " Aviatur. Ltd" the air ticket on flight "Kiev - Amsterdam - London" in cost 4430 UAH. [3, p. 36].


As a version of fulfillment of roguish actions with use counterfeit BPC it is possible to result criminal acts with use so-called "white plastic". Manufacturing completely counterfeit BPC is very expensive and labour-intensive process. Therefore sometimes criminals use a piece of plastic in size with BPC on which number of the account, a date of issue and data on the owner of a card are put down. There is the magnetic data carrier containing the data, copied with true BPC on it. Fulfillment of the given crime provides criminal arrangement to the accomplice - the dealer who accepts " white plastic " for payment, not paying attention to its appearance. Knowing a PIN-code, with the help " white plastic " it can be stolen free money from cash dispensers. That's why for an owners BPC PIN-code acquirement criminals show the maximal ingenuity. For "removal" of the information from cash dispensers or terminals they use various recorders. The case when in the Great Britain members of one criminal grouping have established a false cash dispenser is known. Due to this swindlers could receive the valuable information on PIN-codes of significant number of users. Also there were cases when swindlers called by phone to BPC owner and, having named workers of bank establishment, asked to inform his PIN-code, ostensibly for card registration verification.


The third group of features is made with necessity of the account of activity of the international organized criminal groupings at plunders fulfillment with use counterfeit BPC. Disclosing of such kind of crimes, its successful investigation urgently demands carrying out of operative measures for the maximal gathering the information on the persons suspected in fulfillment of crimes, existing connections between participants of such criminal group (for example, an establishment of connection between organizers of crimes and helpers - workers of restaurants, other service institutions who "are used" for gathering the information about BPC), about ways of BPC fake and the mechanism of money resources plunder; about sources of purchase counterfeit BPC, about a site of material evidences on such criminal activity (counterfeit BPC, the available preparations, the stolen money, etc.).


Practice testifies, that detention of the person during use by him counterfeit BPC ("bust") not always gives positive result. So, for example, on June, 8, 2000 at restaurant "Da Vinci" in Kiev at attempt to pay off for a supper by means of a counterfeit credit card of the company " American Express " addressed to Edward Franko the inhabitant of Odessa - "P" have been detained. On the given fact the Pechora Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in Kiev have been excited criminal case on part 1 item 83 Criminal Code 1960. The arrested person has explained, that a credit card he was presented familiar, by the citizen the USA. As he said, the last at his presence has paid off by means of this card for purchases and consequently he considered, that the card is true. In the other case, on the contrary, similar indications have helped to avoid the criminal liability to the citizen of Nigeria who during interrogation has explained, that a credit card of company " VISA " for his name he was presented by the compatriot. He considered that last has opened the bank account for his name, money with which he received in cash in Ukraine.


Therefore for suppression of such facts careful operative support of investigation is necessary, first of all - (the fourth feature).


The fifth group is made with the certain difficulties arising at an establishment of a site of bank establishment to which the damage is caused, and also the true BPC owners.


The facts when the organized criminal groups at fulfilment of roguish actions with counterfeit BPC use the data of the cards received, for example, in the countries of the Western Europe, Northern America, etc. are not individual. During investigation of the given category of criminal cases there is a necessity of interrogation of owners such BPC. They are interrogated in most cases as witnesses, because the damage, as a rule, is caused not to BPC owner, but to bank establishment (the bank of issue). So, criminal case concerning the citizen of Nigeria has been excited by Investigatory Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Donetsk area on the fact of causing of damage to Donetsk branch of the First Ukrainian international bank. However the documentary audit which has been lead, has established, that actually the damage is caused to bank of issue of credit cards - "FCC National Bank" (USA), which has in due time transferred money resources to the first Ukrainian international bank [4, p. 41].


The delayed direction of orders about execution of remedial actions in territory of the foreign states, namely on interrogation of witnesses and the recognitions of bank establishment as a civil claimant results in a tightening of terms of criminal cases investigation.

As it has been said earlier, one of kinds of BPC fake is change of the signature of the lawful card owner. In this connection, it is so often significant difficulties at investigatory workers arise at visual survey of BPC as material evidence. Using means and consultation of the expert, it is necessary to establish a kind of a material - the way of writing, its status, a kind of the writing (computer, hand-written), the maintenance of the text, presence of changes or distortions, correctness of properties filling, etc. [5, p. 256].


The analysis of investigatory-judiciary practice allows to formulate following criminalistics recommendations on preliminary research of the signature of "owner" of a plastic payment card:

First, the person making inquiry, the inspector, the public prosecutor, the court should take into account that to erase a sample of the signature on BPC it is impossible, as at attempt to make it in a field for the signature appears a word "VOID".


Second, in some cases criminals paint over a field for the signature a white paint, or in general change on new with use of a glued strip of a paper. So, on one criminal case, as a result of carrying out of preliminary research of a field for signature BPC, it has been established, that criminals have painted over such field a writing paint such as "Stroke", and then have anew put the signature.


The investigatory workers polling results analysis in Crimea has shown that during investigation of criminal cases about crimes with use counterfeit BPC, the significant difficulties with appointment of following criminalistics examinations arise.


The Technical - criminalistics examination of documents.

The technical - criminalistics examination of documents is appointed in case of revealing on the surfaces of the withdrawn payment card during its visual survey the fallowing features:


1.      Wavy traces and distortions of inscriptions from heat treatment of BPC (presence of dents on a font, some displacement of letters and figures, etc.). Such way of plastic "smoothing" as heat treatment is generated by ability of a material from which the BPCs are made becomes elastic at warm influence. After the BPC warming-up it is planed manually or with the help of hydraulic press. Thus the swindler deletes a paint from the embossments before BPC thermal processing. For this purpose he can use the usual cleaners containing, for example, pumice. When the old paint is removed not completely, the contours of the true font are visible. For realization of such way it is necessary to use the desktop-press (the machine with a set of letters and figures). Some of them are made in such a manner that new letters and figures can be pressed atop of old.


2.      Presence of the replaced letters and the figures, which have been squeezed out in plane of BPC. Using various ways of reception of the new data for their entering on BPC (for example, from contracts, from bills, from sheets of a transfer paper, etc.), swindlers with the help of an edge or a scalpel move off such letters and figures also re-stick them on others. A way is rather rough, and rather unreliable as at attentive survey the BPC under a corner to light, it is usually possible to notice traces of glue and old number. Besides letters and figures can be pasted roughly, that also it is possible to notice. Presence of the tools used at the given way of a fake, it is necessary to mean by manufacture of a search at the persons suspected in fulfillment of such crimes.


3. Presence of various distortions (for example, dents on a font, displacement of letters, figures, etc.) on a piece of white plastic. At drawing up of the order about appointment of technical - criminalistics examination it is necessary to put the following questions:

a) By what (factory or handicraft) way the withdrawn BPC is made?

b) Whether the primary text, which has been squeezed out on BPC surface, was subject to change?

c) In which way?



The Judicial - trace examination.

It is appointed for an establishment of primary text on BPC, if cutting and gluing in of new letters and figures have changed it. In the way of judicial - trace research it is possible to determine the contents of the removed relief designations available on a plastic card. Thus at drawing up of the order about appointment of examination it is necessary to put such questions:


1. What was the primary text, which has been squeezed out on a surface withdrawn BPC?

2. What way remove the primary text, which has been squeezed out on a surface of a card, submitted on research?

3. Whether the seen text on the card is put by the tool, withdrawn from citizen N.?


Examination of the contents of magnetic carrier BPK.

It is appointed for research of the contents of the magnetic carrier of a payment card. Unfortunately, for today an opportunity of expert divisions of system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine are essentially limited not only by absence of appropriate experts in this field, but also by the available imperfect technical equipment. So, the equipment of a department of researches of materials and means sound- and video- tape recording of State scientific-research expert-criminalistics center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine allows to identify only the equipment on which the information of the magnetic carrier of a payment card is written down. If such equipment is withdrawn, at drawing up of the order about appointment of examination it is necessary to put the following identification questions connected to definition of the concrete device and an establishment of whole in parts:


1. Is the information on magnetic carrier BPC is written down using submitted for research or other equipment?

2. On what from submitted for research equipment the information recording on BPC magnetic carrier is made?

3. Whether two (or more) the stuck together parts of magnetic carrier BPC made earlier a single whole? If yes, whether that given magnetic carrier BPC is mounted from the pieces, which have been recorded on the various equipment, submitted on research?


As practice shows, at investigation of plunders with use counterfeit BPCs a guarantee of disclosing and investigation of these crimes is the organized interaction between law enforcement bodies, firms- BPC manufacturers, financial-credit (for example, banks - of issue, clearing banks, etc.) and other establishments (the processing centers, the establishments giving jobs, services, etc.). A necessary condition also is the coordinated job of post establishments, customs bodies that enables to reveal the sets of counterfeit BPC even at their import in the country, and also to trace their further movement and to open structure of the organized criminal groups and the criminal organizations, specializing on fulfillment of plunders with use counterfeit BPCs.

The account of the given features in spite of the fact, that criminalistics researches on development of a technique of investigation of plunders in credit and financial sphere (it is especial with use counterfeit BPCs) are just developed (when investigatory and judiciary practice already urgently demands concrete results), will allow to increase efficiency of struggle against such kind of criminal actions and to prevent causing enormous material harm which accompanies with them.


1. Kotljarevsky A.I. The swindle with plastic payment cards use // collected scientific jobs. - Zaporozhye: the Zaporozhye Law institute, 1998. - 1. - Page 49.

2. Vertuzaev M.S., Kotljarevskij A.I., Yurchenko A.M. The ways of encroachments on property of banks and their investors with credit cards use // Safety of the information. - 1997. - 1. - Page 28 - 41.

3. Collected methodical recommendations on questions of disclosing and investigation of crimes by inspectors, operative official of law-enforcement bodies / under P.V.Koljady's edition. - Kiev: the Main investigatory Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, 2001. - 240 pages.

4. In the same place.

5. Saltevsky M.V. The criminalistics in a modern statement of lawyers. The educational and practical manual. - Kharkov, 1997. - 432 pages.

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