Crackdown on fraudulent air tickets leads to 130 detained


A global crack-down on illegally obtained airline tickets in 140 airports around Europe, Asia, Australia, America and Africa has led to the detention and investigation of 130 people involved in the activity.

The tickets were purchased using stolen credit card details, which authorities said were taken mostly using online data breaches.

The two-day operation was organised by Europol in The Hague, Interpol in Singapore and Ameripol in Bogota, with support from Canadian and US law enforcement authorities. It meant co-ordination between the airlines involved, worldwide banks, credit card schemes, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and law enforcement.

Over the 48-hour period, 222 suspicious transactions were reported by the industry, with nearly half of those in Europe.

"This operation was the culmination of many months of meticulous planning between Europol, law enforcement, prosecuting and border control agencies, airlines and credit card companies, and is a perfect example of how our combined forces can track down the organised crime gangs involved in this large-scale fraud and other offences," Wil van Gemert, Deputy Director Operations at Europol said. "Along with our partners, we are committed to continue developing new levels of cooperation and new methods for fighting this type of crime."

It is estimated this criminal activity has cost the airline industry up to 1bn (710m) and for customers whose cards have been used, the inconvenience of dealing with fraud.

"Fraud represents a significant cost burden for the airline industry, a cost that ends up being passed on to all passengers," Aleks Popovich, IATA Senior Vice President, Financial and Distribution Services said. "We are proud to have supported Europol in planning and rolling out this global and hugely successful operation. This illustrates the type of close and trusted collaboration we want to build between the airline industry and law enforcement agencies worldwide.''

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.