Indian jailed for Britain’s biggest fake credit card fraud

October 29th, 2008 - 2:56 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 29 (IANS) An India-born computer specialist who was the mastermind behind Britain’s biggest fake credit card racket has been jailed for six years.Anup Patel and his accomplices had amassed nearly 2 million pounds (over $3 million) by making counterfeit credit cards and using them in several countries in Asia and Europe. Police believe they would have cheated people of 16 million pounds by now had they not been caught.

A computer sciences graduate from Kingston University, Patel stole original credit card numbers and PIN (Personal Identification Numbers) and engraved them on counterfeit cards.

The fake cards were transported by one of his accomplices, Anthony Thomas, to countries in Asia like Thailand and eastern Europe where the chip-and-PIN security system is not in use. Local members of the gang withdrew money using those cards by faking signatures of the original card holders.

The police launched an investigation after motorists using the M25 petrol pumps started receiving credit card statements citing purchases and cash withdrawals in various countries.

Patel managed to steal details of nearly 19,000 cards. Police suspect that Patel’s gang collected the data from petrol pumps on the M25 motorway near London with the help of secret cameras and data card readers. They still do not have a clue as to how these gadgets were installed. Thousands use these pumps for fuel daily and payment is almost always through credit cards.

The operation was busted in October, 2006 when the police, acting on an intelligence tip off, raided Patel’s rented office premises at the Croydon House Business Centre in south London.

They found a literal computer factory inside the premises: Thousands of magnetic strips and blank plastic cards, a library of 19,000 skimmed card and PIN details, holograms, card printers, corrupted payment terminals and 20,000 pounds in cash.

Patel gave himself up to the police after learning that his accomplices had been arrested in Thailand and at London’s airports.

The Times has revealed that Patel compared himself to a computer thief featured in an English film. He thought he was like Frank Abnagale, the con artist played by Leonardo DiCaprio in “Catch Me If You Can”.

Apparently Patel once called Detective Sergeant Simon Russen, who was hunting him after the bust, and told him that the policeman was like the FBI agent played by Tom Hanks in the film. “Catch me if you can,” he is said to have told Russsen during the two-minute conversation.

When the case came to court, prosecutor David Povall said Patel had earlier been jailed for two years for a credit card fraud in France a decade ago.

Patel, who lived in Thornton Heath in South London, was born in India and came to Britain at the age of two. He obtained a degree in computer sciences from Kingston University in 2006, leading police to believe that he was trying to beat the chip-and-PIN system even as he was studying.

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