Here are some numbers for you – 18. That’s how many people were arrested recently in the takedown of a massive credit card fraud ring. How about 7,000? That’s the number of fake identities that were created to obtain 25,000 credit cards and steal at least $200 million throughout the course of the scam. Thirty years? The possible prison sentence that each suspect now faces.

According to a press statement from the United States Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier this week, this is the result of an 18-month probe into a scam that could date back to 2007 or earlier. And there are more low-level criminals involved in the fraud ring that federal authorities have yet to apprehend.

Bloomberg reports that most of the men arrested in relation to the scheme are Pakistani and a few are U.S. citizens, living in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“This is, as far as we can tell, one of the largest, if not the largest, credit card fraud cases ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice,” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said at a news conference in Newark, New Jersey. “We have already documented losses of $200 million, and that number could quite well go higher.”

Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be the only scheme of its kind uncovered as we move forward. Investigators fully admit that the size and scope of this particular criminal enterprise may in fact be larger than they currently know.

It is imperative that merchants invest in secure and reliable POS credit card processing software that can generate reports aimed at weeding out fraudulent activity. Strong technical support without hidden fees is also a critical component needed for businesses to stay ahead of such criminal machinations.