• Three women and one man were arrested on 26 February for multiple bank card thefts in France and Europe.
  • The amount of loot amounts to more than 150,000 euros, often to the detriment of the elderly.
  • The gendarmes warn about this technique of "shoulder surfing", which consists of spying on a person at the moment when he dials his credit card code.

The technique is not new, but it now has a name: "shoulder surfing". Literally: spying over the shoulder. This ruse used by gangs of thieves has been identified multiple times in western France in 2022. Particularly concerned, the department of Finistère has been the scene of several scams of this type, often to the detriment of the elderly. Sunday, February 26, four individuals suspected of having defrauded several hundred people were arrested in a hotel in Brive-la-Gaillarde (Corrèze). The opportunity for the gendarmerie to warn about the dangers of the famous "shoulder surfing".

Sometimes used to steal passwords, this technique involves observing people's credit card codes by looking over their shoulder at checkout. According to the gendarmerie of Finistère, thieves generally act in supermarkets. "They then discreetly steal the victims' wallets. Afterwards, they use the victims' cards to withdraw cash and make purchases," the investigators explain. They point out that it is often older people, who are less alert and less quick to spot suspicious behaviour, who are targeted. The average age of the victims recorded is 77 years.

The technique used is far from amateurish. According to investigators, the three women and the man arrested belong to an international Bosnian organized criminal group. They were arrested Sunday by gendarmes from the Central Office for the Fight against Itinerant Delinquency (OCLDI) and the departmental gendarmerie group of Finistère while they were stopover in a hotel in Brive. Back from Spain, the four defendants were preparing to return beyond our borders to continue their flights, always on the same modus operandi. They have 12,000 euros on them, the equivalent of three days of shoulder surfing. According to the gendarmes, the total damage at this stage amounts to 153,000 euros in France alone. "The connections make it possible to establish that acts are also committed in Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Croatia and Germany, testifying to the mobility of the organized group".

Be careful to remain discreet

Aged between 22 and 35, the four suspects are already known to the justice system. They were remanded in custody pending their immediate trial on 7 April.

To avoid having your credit card code stolen, it is essential to ensure that no one is near you when you enter your PIN. This warning also applies to online payments. It is sometimes interesting to place your hand above the one that makes up the code.

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