Two men have been arrested on suspicion of stealing €39,000 in total from around 300 victims via a PIN code scheme, which police say is the first of its kind detected in France.
Police said that the fraud worked in connection with card payment tills, so that when a customer entered their PIN at one site, the details were duplicated at an ATM several kilometres away, enabling fraudsters to steal money easily.
The police brigade in Paris say the scheme was first detected in early April.
The alert was issued by the bank card management network GIE, after anomalies were found in the hospital car park of the Henri-Mondor hospital in Créteil (Val-de-Marne). A technician noticed a discreet box had been placed on the card payment terminal, and raised the alarm.
CCTV footage and on-the-ground monitoring showed a small group of men who appeared to be working in a similar way across several sites.
One would stand guard next to the hacked device, while another would be a few kilometres away at an ATM to make a withdrawal using a counterfeit bank card, just as the victim is typing in their PIN code.
They would stay in the same neighbourhood for a few hours, before moving on. The amount taken per transaction was €400 on average.
The police statement said: “This is the first time that this type of fraud has been detected in our country, but a similar alert was issued in mid-March from London.”
Until now, fraud conducted via payment terminals has usually stripped data such as the long number on the front of the card, the expiry date, and security number, so criminals can sell them on. However, this new scam duplicates the data on the card’s chip instantly.
Two men have now been arrested in connection with the fraud. They are of Bulgarian citizenship and are both in their 40s. Neither was known to the French justice system before now.
They are under investigation for alleged fraud in an organised group, and fraudulent extraction of data.
They are suspected of having installed “pirate” boxes in 11 car parks and service stations across inner Paris between February and April. The scam is said to have affected 300 people, and caused a loss of €39,000.
A source close to the investigation said: "It is believed that their attempts amounted to more than €100,000 but that they had a number of failures.”
Investigations are continuing.