Seventy six professional online fraudsters and internet-based criminals have been arrested as part of an international operation led by the EU police agency, Europol.

Ireland was one of the 26 countries which took part in the eCommerce Action 2017 operation, coordinated by the European Cybercrime Centre or EC3.

In total Europol says the suspects were responsible for over 20,000 fraudulent transactions using compromised credit cards worth over €5 million.

Assistance was provided from payment card schemes, banks, logistics companies and e-merchants.

The agencies and organisations focused on dismantling the criminal networks that were behind this large scale fraud.

200 websites and social media accounts, which in some cases had 100,000 followers or customers, were identified as being used to sell on goods that had been bought fraudulently.

It also targeted the addresses where the illegally bought goods were being sent to.

As part of the action, the law enforcement agencies seized hundreds of parcels being sent from online shops.

One hundred locations were searched and expensive electronics, including smartphones and tablets, as well as clothing and watches were seized.

The process also unmasked suspects who had been involved in other crimes, like cyber-attacks, illegal use of stolen passports, identity fraud, phishing and online child exploitation.

Payment card fraud against online shops is considered as a high profit and low risk criminal activity with losses for the European sector exceeding €1 billion annually.

However, the complexity of the methods used, the cross-border nature of the crimes and the difficulties involved in identifying those involved can make bringing perpetrators to justice.