Computer Crime Research Center


Counterfeit credit cards main source of cyber crime

Date: June 03, 2008
By: Shafiq Sharif

LAHORE: Counterfeit credit cards, allegedly smuggled from China, are the main source of cyber crime across the country, as it is the easiest way to swindle banks and financial institutions, said a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) official on Tuesday.

Card skimming, the electronic theft of information from the magnetic strips of credit cards, is the fastest-growing scam in Pakistan and now represents 60 percent of all credit-card frauds, he said on the condition of anonymity.

“Criminals have also started producing counterfeit credit cards that are barely detectible or differentiable from the original cards,” he said.

Highly sophisticated portable machines are freely available in Pakistan, which are capable of producing ‘genuine’ cards with ‘original’ holograms and imprinted signature strips, he said.

He said that most of the gang leaders were highly qualified and live in posh areas. “They are specially interested in foreign banks, especially those of Italy, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and England, because of a higher credit limit as compared to local banks,” he said.

According to the FIA officials, the cyber crime unit (CCU) registered 15 cases and arrested 24 people in 2007, out of which 12 cases were related to credit cards fraud.

“The cyber crime unit registered 14 cases this year, out of which six cases were of credit card fraud, two were related to online banking and three involved software hacking,” he said. CCU Deputy Director Azhar Mehmood said that criminals often used Chinese-made white plastic cards with electro-magnetic chips.

He said that the unit helped banks recover millions of rupees since its establishment in 2005. He claimed that the unit has helped various banks recover Rs 20 million the past year-and-a-half.

“The criminals have a special liking for petrol pumps, as they purchase oil with counterfeit credit cards to sell on the open market,” he said, adding that some petrol pump cashiers were also involved in the business. “Traders have now started informing on the criminals after being warned against becoming accomplices in the crime,” he said. He said that the general public was not aware of such crimes and usually became an easy prey. “A campaign has been launched to educate them about cyber crimes,” he added.

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