A joint international criminal investigation has culminated in the arrest of seven people in Romania for the largest credit card data theft in the county’s history.


Australian Federal Police (AFP) contributed to the crack down on the syndicate which had access to over 500,000 Australian credit cards, of which 30,000 had been used for fraudulent transactions to the sum of more than $30 million.


The investigation, codenamed Operation Lino, started in 2011 when the AFP received a referral from an unnamed financial institution relating to suspiscious credit card transactions.


The subsequent investigation led AFP operatives to discover a sophisticated international operation, whose members were using stolen credit card data to create false credit cards, enabling counterfeited transactions to be carried out in numerous countries, including in Europe, Hong Kong, Australia and the United States.


The operation came to resolution yesterday in Romania when 16 people were detained across Romania, seven of which were arrested and as a result, the criminal syndicate was successfully shut down. The AFP worked closely with Romanian authorities throughout the resolution and will continue to provide support during the prosecution phase in Romania.


AFP Manager for Cyber Crime Operations, Commander Glen McEwen said that today’s arrests are the result of significant cooperation across law enforcement and the financial industry.  


“This is the largest data breach investigation ever undertaken by Australian law enforcement.


“Without the cooperation of 13 other countries, along with Australia’s banking and finance sector, we would not have been able to track these illegal transactions to the criminal network in Romania. Today’s successful outcome is a culmination of 17 months of hard work with these partners.”