NSW Police have arrested the masterminds of what is alleged to be one of Australia’s largest Eftpos card skimming rackets.
Fraud squad detectives raided homes across Sydney and arrested key organisers responsible for coordinating state-based 'cells' which harvested thousands of Australian credit and ATM cards over several years.
The figure heads, believed to be Malaysian and Sri Lankan nationals, would then collect and ship the credit card details to criminal cells in Britain, Europe and North America.
Detective superintendent commander Colin Dyson said the men coordinated the Australian wing of the international fraud racket.
"They organised and coordinated all operations in Australia, and transmitted credit card details overseas," Dyson said.
"It is a massive blow to the operation."
The racket is believed to consist of confined, state-based cells which were connected only through the arrested men.
Dyson said the men had taken $10,000 likely for "spending money" from local ATMs, but the bulk of fraudulent withdrawals occurred in Britain.
The five men were charged with offenses including conspiracy to defraud, dealing with identification information and possession of equipment to make identification documents.
Three homes were raided across Pendle Hill, Strathfield and Auburn where police seized Eftpos terminals, laptops, mobile phones, and PIN copying technology. Cash, falsified travel documents and Canadian credit cards were also seized.
The arrests are the latest under the nation-wide police sting Strike Force Wigg, established in June 2009 to crackdown on Eftpos skimming across NSW.
Twenty five people have been charged under the operation, but the new arrests were the first time key members of the syndicate had been captured.
More than 50 stolen Eftpos terminals were seized along with skimmers and some 18,000 blank and counterfeit credit cards.
Dyson said Eftpos skimming was on the rise but tended to ebb in the wake of arrests.
All five men have been refused bail and will appear at Parramatta Local Court today.