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Litan said it’s likely that the perpetrators of this attack had their own payment terminals and were somehow able to manipulate the transaction fields in each charge.“I remember when I went to Brazil a couple of years ago, their biggest problem was merchants were taking point-of-sale systems home, and then running stolen cards through them,” she said.According to the bank, Master Card officials explained that the thieves were probably in control of a payment terminal and had the ability to manipulate data fields for transactions put through that terminal.After capturing traffic from a real EMV-based chip card transaction, the thieves could insert stolen card data into the transaction stream, while modifying the merchant and acquirer bank account on the fly.Furthermore, the bank’s processor hadn’t even yet been certified by Master Card to handle chip card transactions, so why was Master Card so sure that the phony transactions were chip-based?Master Card did not respond to multiple requests to comment for this story. But the New England bank told Krebs On Security that in a conversation with Master Card officials the credit card company said the most likely explanation was that fraudsters were pushing regular magnetic stripe transactions through the card network as EMV purchases using a technique known as a “replay” attack.In addition, there are several checks that banks can use to validate the authenticity of chip card transactions.

Litan said attacks like this one illustrate the importance of banks setting up EMV correctly.“And then in one day we matched a month’s worth of fraud on those cards thanks to these charges from Brazil.” The New England bank initially considered the possibility that the perpetrators had somehow figured out how to clone chip cards and had encoded the cards with their customers’ card data.In theory, however, it should not be possible to easily clone a chip card.“I’m sure they could rewire them to do whatever they wanted.That was the biggest issue at the time.” The New England bank shared with this author a list of the fraudulent transactions pushed through by the scammers in Brazil.

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