AFP investigating the biggest data theft in history

SEVEN people in Romania have been charged after an international criminal investigation revealed the largest credit card data theft in Australian history on Wednesday.

A criminal syndicate operating out of the eastern European country accessed 500,000 Australian credit cards, using about 30,000 in fraudulent transactions totalling more than $30 million.

Begun in June 2011, the Australian Federal Police Operation Lino exposed thousands of counterfeit transactions carried out in numerous countries including in Europe, Hong Kong, Australia and the United States.

The AFP investigation was completed with the help of other international law enforcement bodies as well as partners in the banking and financial sector.

The operation was completed on Wednesday, with 16 people detained in Romania, seven of whom were arrested, shutting down the criminal syndicate.

No Australian credit card holders lost money due to the fraudulent transactions, with Australian banks and financial institutions reimbursing all losses.

AFP manager for cyber crime operations, Commander Glen McEwen said the operation was the largest data breach investigation in Australian law enforcement history.

"Without the co-operation of 13 other countries, along with Australia's banking and finance sector, we would not have been able to track these illegal transactions to the criminal network in Romania," he said.

"Today's successful outcome is a culmination of 17 months of hard work with these partners.

"Following initial inquiries, the AFP entered into a joint investigation with the Romanian National Police in March of this year, leading to these arrests."



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