Five men have been arrested by British police after allegedly going on an extravagant £500,000 ($775,000) spending spree using a compromised American Express Black card.
It’s unusual for the Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) to release details of crimes involving only a single victim but this must have stood out as an unusually targeted attack.
The alleged criminals would have known that the American Express Black Centurian card (offered only to high net worth individuals on an invitation basis) allows a sizable balance to be run up, hence its value in fraudulent use.
After getting hold of the full card details using faked identity documents, the gang are alleged to have used it to buy “Rolex watches, wine, diamonds, designer luggage and dining” at a number of expensive stores in London and then Barcelona, Madrid and Marbella in Spain December 2012 and March this year.
How the existence of the account came to their attention has not been explained but some element of digital crime looks to be a possibility.
The unnamed five were detailed in raids in the London boroughs of Lambeth, Harrow, Barnet, Enfield and in Brighton where mobile phones, computer equipment and “financial documents” were recovered as evidence.
News of the latest arrests appears to be part of a concerted campaign by the PCeU to highlight the individual human costs of online and digital crimes where in the past it might have limited itself to a conventional police approach based on arrests, crimes and charges.
Last month, at the conclusion of a similar case of individual suffering highlighted by the PcEU, eight people were found guilty of stealing and frittering a woman's £1 million life savings on "cheeseburgers and gold" after accessing her online bank account.
Along with the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the PCeU is due to be merged into the new National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) on 1 October this year. PCeU head Charlie McMurdie has been rumoured for some time to be leaving the police force after several decades of service.