FUN card X-ray analysis. (1) External memory (AT24C64); (2) Microcontroller (AT90S8515A); (3) Connection wires; (4) Connection grid. (credit: Houda Ferradi, Rémi Géraud, David Naccache, and Assia Tria)

“Forgery X-ray analysis. (5) Stolen card’s module; (6) Connection wires added by the fraudster; (7) Weldings by the fraudster (only three are pointed out here).” (credit: Houda Ferradi, Rémi Géraud, David Naccache, and Assia Tria)

Four years ago, about a dozen credit cards equipped with chip-and-PIN technology were stolen in France. In May 2011, a banking group noticed that those stolen cards were being used in Belgium, something that should have been impossible without the card holders inputting their PINs. That’s when the police got involved.
The police scanned the international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) numbers present at the locations where the cards were used and at the times they were used, and then they correlated those IMSI numbers to SIM cards.
Using that information, the police were able to arrest a 25-year-old woman carrying a large number of cigarette packs and scratchers, which were apparently intended for resale on the black market. After her arrest, four more members of the fraud ring were identified and arrested. That number included the engineer who was able to put together the chip card hacking scheme that a group of French researchers call “the most sophisticated smart card fraud encountered to date.”
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