Police snare 3 in credit card fraud ring bust

The China Post staff

Police yesterday arrested three in a bust of the largest credit card fraud ring in central Taiwan. They seized over 2,000 fake cards and related equipment. The Criminal Investigation Bureau under the National Police Administration received tips about the illegal operations of the syndicate in Taichung City more than one month ago. Coordinated by the NIB, policemen in Taipei and Taichung cities raided a black tea shop and arrested ring leader Wang Chien-chung, a driver, and a man who was purchasing goods bought with the fake cards. Police sources said the syndicate managed to get the secret codes of credit cards supplied by people who are familiar with card-issuing operations at financial institutions. Members of the group also colluded with store clerks to copy secret codes when unsuspecting shoppers used their cards. Members of the ring then made fake cards and installed the codes onto them. They then sold the illegal cards at NT$5,000 each to customers. After shopping sprees at department stores, computer stores and household electrical appliance stores, fraudulent buyers of the products sold the goods to people recruited by the crime ring to resell the goods on the Internet or via “flea” magazines, which promote mainly sales of second-hand products at a discount.

Wang, the leader of the ring, also hired full-time employees to do procurement with the fake cards. He used his tea house as a front to carry out the illicit dealings.

Police estimate that the group has made handsome illegal profits of over NT$1 billion on sales of goods worth several billions of New Taiwan dollars.

They said more than 90 percent of the pirated credit cards in central Taiwan were supplied by Wang’s group. But police are perplexed as to how the ring managed to get secret codes from credit cards issued by foreign financial institutions. Wang had previous criminal records concerning gambling, forging securities certificates, and inflicting physical harm to others. Police uncovered 246 fake credit cards ready for sale plus 2,167 semifinished ones. They also confiscated equipment used to make the cards and products like personal computers, PC memory chips, and other categories of products purchased with fake cards. A police officer said continuing investigations will include a probe of card-issuing organizations to determine if there are bank employees colluding with the ring. Taiwan has become one of the Asian areas most affected by rampant credit card crime because relatively lenient penalties fail to deter the fraudulence by local people and have attracted crooks from other Asian nations to Taiwan.