Few days back a letter was delivered to our family mailbox. My wife said “hey, your new credit card is here!” although I was not really waiting for any new card.
I opened the envelope and inside found a letter from Swiss Banking Group saying that the “innovative” AmiCard was just launched in Italy and that I was pre-approved for 5.000€ credit.
In fact the letter contained an attached embossed card very much similar to a normal credit card.
The letter continued saying that I could use the card in any shop displaying the AmiCard logo and withdraw cash from more than two millions ATMs without any commission.
The only thing I had to do to make all this a reality, the letter continued was to pay a one-time activation fee of 29,90€ and I could pay back for the credit with a monthly payment of a sum of my choice. Yes, they claim that I could pay back the credit with a monthly payment of any sum of my choice.
In the back of the letter were printed pretty standard Economic Conditions and the IBAN where to remit the initial 29,90€.
After the sum has been paid the organization would activate the card and send PIN and PUK to customer within 45 days.
So far, it looks everything fine. A new financial card circuit with pre-approved credit, payable with monthly installments of any sum you like.
A closer inspection, however, shown a different picture.
A Google search for “Swiss Banking Group” come up with nothing.
A Google search for “amicard” resulted in various card programs, none of them managed by Swiss Banking Group.
Then, I tried to located the SWIBA Group address printed on the footer of the letter, Aeschenplatz 92, Basel, Switzerland but a search.ch query reported that this address does not exist.
Same with Google Map and Microsoft Bing Maps. Strangely enough in Aeschenplatz 2 there is an office of SWICA, a swiss insurance Agency.
Now let’s have a look at the IBAN where to make the payment for the 29,9€. It’s a Swiss Banking Group so I would have expected a swiss account number. The IBAN printed is MT69STBA19116000200050816176478.
A quick check on iban.com shown a genuine account number held at the St Julian headquarter of SATABANK PLC of Malta.
However a check on Malta Public Registry of Companies come out with no Swiba Group LTD registration.
Interesting enough, Swiba Group LTD was found registered in Cyprus, at the database of Department of Companies and Official Receiver so I have very strong reasons to believe this company is the owner of the Maltese bank account.
The company found registered in Cyprus.
The company was registered on Oct 15th, 2015 and got registered office in:
Αρχ. Μακαρίου ΙΙΙ & Βύρωνος, (Arch. Makarίoy III & Bύronos, )
- LORDOS CENTER, BLOCK B, Floor 2, Flat 203
3105, Λεμεσός, Κύπρος (3105, Limassol, Cyprus)
Mr. Gianni Fasolo was indicated as Director and DELTA QUEST (SECRETARIAL) LIMITED as Secretary.
A further research on various public european Companies Databases confirmed that Swiba Group Limited is a UK company incorporated on January 26, 2016 with registered address in Unit 2, 4 Park Road, Moseley, Birmingham, UK, B13 8AB. Also in this case, Mr. Gianni Fasolo is indicated as Director of the company.
The registered address in Birmingham is those of Central Company Services, a company specialized in incorporation of UK Limited Companies. So, it’s clear that Swiba Group Ltd does not have any real company address and it simply hide itself behind Central Company Service.
So, although I cannot be 100% sure, I have enough elements to believe that this Mr. Gianni Fasolo is the man behind this operation.
Now the interesting part. The card.
The card included in the envelope it looks like a regular credit card except few little things.
The card is a standard CR-80 size with a standard tickness, probabily made out of common PVC.
The card is offset printed and it sport the Amicard logo with three round circle with almost same color and shape of a MasterCard.
The card PAN is embossed with Standard Gothic font (this is the official font used virtually for all embossed cards in the banking industry) but its position is NOT compliant with standards.
Validity date and Cardholder Name are embossed with OCR 7B that is the standard font for financial embossed cards. The position of this two elements is also NOT compliant with standards.
The first six digits of a card number are known as the Issue Identification Number (INN). My card had 1083 33. A quick query at one of the popular online INN database binlist.net resulted to be associated to Visa Debit Plus issued in USA.
Also the first four digits of the PAN must be pre-printed (normally offset) together with the card background right under them but in this card there is nothing printed.
The card does not have any chip and this is very strange given that – at least in EU – and mostrly of the developed worlds there are not anymore financial cards in circulation without Chip.
Back side is also very interesting!
On the top side, foremost left and right I have found few small marking sign that the card has been personalized with a DataCard DC7000 an obsolete machine.
The magnetic stripe looks perfectly normal but a closer inspection with a professional Barnes Magnetic Stripe Analyzer it come out that the magnetic stripe is absolutely empty!
Not a single bit encoded in it!
I have not “opened” the cards but, I have reasons to believe that there is no magnetic stripe embedded in it. What is seems a magnetic stripe could possibly been black printed stripe.
The Signature Panel is filled with a pattern of “AmiCard” with angle and colors incredibly similar to those of a classic MasterCard card.
Last elements I checked was the CVV/CVC what is commonly referred as Secuity Number. With my great surprise I found out that the number is pre-printed meaning all cards they produced has the same number. A real CVV/CVC shall be indented or laser engraved, no pre-printing is allowed.
There is no UV print neither on the front or on the back of the card. Normally all cards do have some sort of UV sign on the front or sometime on the signature panel.
There is no hologram anywhere.
There is no micro-text anywhere whereas 99,99% of the financial cards in circulation do have some.
With all those information then I come to the following conclusions:
- It’s a fake card
- There is no credit pre-approved anywhere.
I believe that the scam put in place by Mr. Fasolo is to get the 29,90€ from the activation fee and hope that enough people fall into the trap.
In case you get this letter I can only suggest to go tour local law enforcement station and file a report.