Europol recently announced the arrests of 44 alleged members of a global credit card fraud network in a joint operation with the Romanian Cybercrime Unit, in cooperation with the European Cybercrime Center (EC3).

The joint operation, called Pandora-Storm, targeted a group involved both in online fraud and in placing skimmers on point of sale (POS) equipment in shopping centers throughout Europe. More than 400 police officers were involved in the operation.

As part of Pandora-Storm, two workshops used to produce hardware and software to steal card data from POS terminals were dismantlted, and electronic equipment, financial data, cloned cards and cash were seized in 82 house searches in Romania and the UK.

The group's activities impacted approximately 36,000 debit and credit card holders in 16 countries across Europe. They allegedly made illegal transactions in Argentina, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the US, with counterfeit payment cards using stolen data.

"This case is another example of excellent police work and flawless cooperation and a proof of the fact that EU law enforcement cooperation continues to improve," EC3 head Troels Oerting said in a statement.

According to Europol, organized crime groups currently steal more than 1.5 billion euros each year from payment card fraud in the EU.