During an action day, 11 suspects were arrested in Romania, Belgium and Austria, accused of stealing at least EUR 420 000 using cloned fuel cards in Belgium. In Romania, a total of 115 law enforcement officers from different units were deployed, including those specialising in combating organised crime. Eurojust supported the investigation led by Belgian authorities. The perpetrators allegedly used various skimming techniques to obtain the electronic data contained on the magnetic stripe of the original fuel cards and their PIN codes. With these electronic data, they cloned fuel cards that, with the use of the PIN code, allowed them to buy fuel and to upload money to the Belgian road-toll-reporting device without the intention of ever paying these amounts.
Additionally, due to the specificities of the road-toll-reporting device (On Board Unit), the money uploaded to the device but not actually spent on the road toll, was “reimbursed” to the suspects’ bank accounts.
The total damage caused by this fraud is currently estimated at EUR 420 000. The investigations are targeting mainly 83 companies, which together used 163 trucks. The investigation, launched and led by the Belgian authorities, has since been supported by six more countries.
Eurojust helped to coordinate the cross-border judicial cooperation, including the processing of European Arrests Warrants (EAWs) and hosting two coordination meetings. Europol provided additional analytical support to the investigation.
During the action day carried out on 9 March, eleven suspects were arrested: seven in Romania, three in Belgium and one in Austria.
Romanian authorities have executed 7 EAWs, 26 search warrants and 51 bench warrants. The assets of 21 natural and legal persons, as well as 90 bank accounts, have been seized. The Romanian authorities seized money in cash (134 100 lei/RO currency, 12 420 euros, 100 Canadian dollars, 2 100 pounds sterling), as well as two physical wallets storing virtual currency, 26 mobile phones, 27 storage units, 7 laptops, 1 tablet, 21 On Board Units, 52 plastic cards with magnetic stripe, 1 white card without magnetic stripe, 76 bank cards and 4 pistols (1 with plastic balls – airsoft – and 3 with rubber balls).
In Herent, Belgium, 10 fuel cards were seized.
A total of 115 law enforcement officers from different units were deployed in Romania, including those specialising in combating organised crime, as well as officers from the structures of criminal investigations, forensics, rapid intervention and gendarmes.
The following authorities took part in this investigation:
- Belgium: Office of the federal prosecutor of Belgium; Investigating judge of Dendermonde; Federale Gerechtelijke Politie van Oost-Vlaanderen.
- Romania: Directorate for Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism, Central Office; Prosecution Office of the Court of Appeal of Cluj; Prosecution Office of the Court of Appeal of Craiova; Prosecution Office of the Court of Appeal of Bacau; General Inspectorate of Romanian Police, Directorate for Combating Organized Crime, Financial Investigation Service; Brigades for Combating Organized Crime of Cluj-Napoca, Bacau, Timisoara, Oradea, Iasi, Pitesti, Bucharest and Craiova.
- Austria: Public Prosecutor’s Office Graz; Public Prosecutor’s Office St. Pölten; State Office of Criminal Investigation Steiermark; State Office of Criminal Investigation Niederösterreich
- Spain: Investigative Court nº 5 Castellón.