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17 October 2011, 13:08

Sentenced: German engineer modified card terminals for criminal gangs

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Credit Card icon A German electronics engineer has been sentenced at the Old Bailey to three years in prison for committing various offences including skimming fraud. The 26-year-old assisted organised criminal networks by adding skimming components to PIN Entry Devices (PEDs) that had been stolen from retailers across Europe. Once returned to the retail outlet, the compromised PEDs harvested magnetic stripe and PIN data that the criminals could conveniently retrieve via Bluetooth from within a radius of 100 meters of the device – without ever having to go back into the shop. The criminals brought the stolen devices to the UK for modification.

During a hearing on 16 September, the defendant pleaded guilty to possessing skimming hardware. He was also sentenced for failing to tell the police what the password to his encrypted laptop was; in the UK, this is an offence under the provisions of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. The electronics engineer was arrested on 8 June when he entered the UK from the Netherlands. According to a report in the Daily Mail, the 26-year-old had previously worked for a manufacturer of cash machines in Germany. The UK authorities landed a major coup when arresting the engineer – according to the presiding judge, the equipment showed levels of sophistication not previously seen by investigators in the UK.

Various cases where criminals modified card terminals and read out data via Bluetooth have already been found in Germany. In Hanover, several such devices at DIY retailer Hornbach were manipulated and used for unauthorised withdrawals in 140 cases.


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