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Some 195 people suspected of travelling with airline tickets bought using stolen, compromised or fake credit card details were detained in an international law enforcement operation targeting airline fraudsters.
Between October 16 and 20, 2017, 61 countries, 63 airlines and six online travel agencies were involved in the 10th of the Global Airport Action Days (GAAD), at 226 airports. Some 298 suspicious transactions were reported, that included several people caught trying to traffic drugs from Latin America to Europe, frequently flying back and forth using fraudulently purchased tickets.
The GAAD was organised through coordination centres at the European Union’s policing agency Europol in The Hague, Interpol’s Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore and Ameripol in Bogota, and was supported by Canadian and US police. Airlines, online travel agencies, payment card companies, Perseuss and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) worked with Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) to identify suspicious transactions and provide confirmation to police deployed at airports.
The work by the payment card company Visa in such work was among the topics at the Retail Risk conference in Leicester earlier this month, and featured in the November 2017 print issue of Professional Security magazine (page 56).
As the authorities say, organised crime, facilitated by ticket fraud, includes illegal immigration, trafficking in human beings and drug trafficking. Senior Vice President of Financial and Distribution Services at IATA, Aleksander Popovich, pointed to a steep increase in participation in Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin American regions.
Europol’s Executive Director, Rob Wainwright said: “Airline ticket fraud poses a range of security issues, and we cannot allow anyone, in particular serious criminals and terrorists, to travel around the world anonymously and to endanger others. This is why Europol, together with its private partners, needs to further extend these global initiatives, allowing for police and the private sector to share information about suspicious online activities to make life as hard as possible for criminals.”
GAAD is part of Operation Dragon, the fourth EU-wide set of Joint Action Days within the EU Policy Cycle for organised and serious international crime.