Romanian police bust credit card rings

Romanian police have raided seven credit card skimming rings accused of stealing more than two million euros ($2.5 million) from European and US card holders, officials said on Thursday.

Police coordinated searches on Thursday in Romania, Britain, Germany, the United States and the Dominican Republic to break up the rings.

"Forty-four members of a global credit card fraud network have been arrested in a joint operation coordinated by the Romanian Cybercrime Unit in Romania, in close cooperation with Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3)," the European police body said in a statement.

The gangs allegedly placed skimming devices in cash dispensers and payment terminals in Austria, Britain, Columbia, Ecuador, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland to capture credit card data.

Cloned cards were then used to withdraw "substantial amounts of money in the Dominican Republic, the United States, Japan, Jordan and Nepal," a prosecutors statement said.

The criminal networks involved more than 100 people and had been operating since 2011.

Investigations were conducted in cooperation with the European police and justice bodies Europol and Eurojust, the US FBI and authorities in five European countries.

The EU is the world's largest market for payment card transactions and "it is estimated that organised crime groups derive more than 1.5 billion euros a year from payment card fraud there," Europol said.