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Thai police crack credit card wiretap scam

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Tourists from Australia and New Zealand are among an estimated 48,000 victims of a highly-organised credit card fraud ring in Thailand.

According to local reports, crooks intercepted credit card data between merchants and banks in Phuket, the popular Thai resort town.

The fraudsters loaded this data onto MP3 players, which they sent to accomplices in neighbouring Malaysia. Cloned credit cards were manufactured in Malaysia and sent back to Thailand, where they were used to fraudulently purchase goods and services.

Thai police reckon the scam netted crooks at least Baht60m ($1.59m) over six months. A further Baht360m ($9.5m) in suspected transactions are being investigated.

Last month Thai tourist police arrested Tossapol Chaowanawuth, 42, in Bangkok's Chatuchak district, on suspicion of involvement in the wiretapping scam. Chaowanawuth has reportedly confessed to working with four accomplices on the scam. Chaowanawuth's arrest followed a raid in Phuket where police recovered wire tapping equipment. Further arrests are anticipated.

Thai police began investigating after Visa International reported a large number of credit card frauds involving counterfeit cards. Visa was first alerted to the fraud by banking security experts in New Zealand and Australia. ®

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