Police arrested three individuals in the Algarve suspected of involvement in credit card cloning operations through an American hotel bookings site.
According to Correio da Manhã newspaper, the alleged fraudsters, aged between 37 and 55, are a British man and woman and a Portuguese man, who operated from a villa in the Olhão area and were wanted by Interpol and the American and British authorities.
However, in a statement sent to the Algarve Resident, the Polícia Judiciária (PJ) did not confirm the suspects’ nationalities.
The credit card cloning scam was carried out through an American hotel bookings website, which the suspects entered to gain access to client credit card numbers and security code numbers, after which they would copy them onto the magnetic stripes of blank cards.
Using the cloned cards, money would then be deposited in a bank account linked to a fictitious company name set up for the purpose.
The PJ, who seized €100,000 from the bank account, said the suspects had managed to steal “hundreds of thousands of euros”.
At the villa, police also found a “sophisticated” cannabis plantation, supported by automatic control of irrigation and temperature. Around 100 cannabis plants were seized as were more than 100 counterfeit credit cards, computers, two firearms and four vehicles.
The trio is now being investigated for criminal association, credit card fraud, internet fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking and falsification of documents, believed to be used to hire cars with the intention of selling them on under false number plates. I.L.