The Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit has raided a counterfeit card fraud factory in Birmingham and arrested two people.
The specialist police force, funded by the banking industry through APACS, the Association for Payment Clearing Services, said the pair were charged on Tuesday with conspiracy to defraud.
Equipment needed to steal card details and make counterfeit cards "on a massive scale" was found in the premises, the DCPCU said. This included stolen chip and PIN terminals, hundreds of fake cards, card account numbers, a card reader, computer software and fake magnetic strip cards.
The DCPU said it was likely that criminals had been tampering with retailers' chip and PIN terminals in order to reveal card transaction data and PINs. With these details, criminals are able to create fake magnetic strip cards that can be used fraudulently in countries that have yet to roll out chip and PIN.
This type of fraud, called fraud abroad, increased 77 percent last year to £207.6 million (US$394 million), statistics show.
Detective Chief Inspector John Folan, head of the DCPU, said the arrests were "a significant development in our fight against the organized criminal gangs."
"To date, compromised chip and PIN terminals have been found in less than 30 retail outlets throughout the U.K. Together with the banking and retail industries we are working to ensure this figure is minimized," he continued.
Consumers who fall victim to Chip and PIN fraud are well protected under the Banking Code, APACS said.
The DCPCU, which began work in 2002, focuses on catching organized card and check fraud across the U.K., and comprises officers from the Metropolitan and City of London police forces who work alongside banking industry fraud investigators. It has recovered 244,000 counterfeit cards and card numbers.
It works alongside the Payments Industry and Police Joint Intelligence Unit (PIPJIU). That force consists of the DCPCU's intelligence section and the banking industry's Fraud Intelligence Bureau.