POLICE ARRESTED a gang of eight Bulgarians and Croatians on Friday, on suspicion of preparing to withdraw money from potentially thousands of Portuguese and international bank accounts using counterfeit cards.
They were in court the following day for a preliminary hearing, where they were remanded into preventive custody and if convicted, the gang could face up to 12 years in prison.
The group had been identified in various countries and a warrant for their arrest was issued by Europol. Judicial Police officers discovered that they had recently arrived in Lisbon and began to watch them.
When the first transactions were initiated, the police were able to arrest them.
As part of the investigation, computers with thousands of banks account numbers in Portugal and abroad, along with programmes that could facilitate this fraud were seized.
It is unknown how the group got hold of the thousands of bank details and police are investigating whether they had accomplices in banks or, if they hacked into computer systems.
The suspects are said to be one of the most active fraudsters in Europe and they have managed to elude the authorities for so long because they allegedly only remain in one particular country for a few days.
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