Stolen European Cards More Valuable on Black Market than U.S. Cards

Stolen European Cards More Valuable on Black Market than U.S. Cards

August 7, 2013         Written By Bill Hardekopf

Two weeks ago, a federal indictment charged five gang members with stealing more than 160 million credit card numbers from around the world during the past seven years, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. The four Russian nationals and one Ukrainian were part of the largest data heist ever prosecuted. Among the victims of the hacking ring were JetBlue, J.C. Penney, Dow Jones and 7-Eleven.

The indictments showed that these gang members sold the stolen American credit card numbers for roughly $10 apiece, while the European cards went for $50. This begs the question: why are European credit cards worth more than American ones?

One factor has to do with the processing procedures of European cards. With some European cards, there may be a delay in processing transactions over the weekend. So transactions can occur before the fraud detection kicks in, allowing more fraudulent charges to occur on these European cards.

Another reason is supply and demand. In America, stolen credit cards are more readily available so criminals have to pay less for these cards. In addition, American cards do not have the same chip and PIN security most European cards have. Thus, they are easier to steal and more likely to be targeted by credit card fraud.

As Levi Gundert, the leader of an Internet security research firm called Team Cyrmu, told the Washington Post, “There’s an overwhelming amount of U.S. card supplies” on the black market, making these cards far more susceptible to fraud than their European counterparts.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of August 7, 2013. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Bill Hardekopf

Bill Hardekopf is the CEO of and covers the credit card industry from all perspectives. Bill has been involved with personal finance for over 15 years. He is a frequent contributor to Forbes, The Street and The Christian Science Monitor.
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