118 arrested for air ticket fraud in global cybercrime crackdown
Fri 28 Nov 2014
More than a hundred cybercriminals have been arrested this week following a global Europol probe into the use of stolen credit cards to pay for plane tickets.
The European police agency’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) ran the investigation in 45 countries, across 60 airlines, with operation headquarters in The Hague, Singapore, and Bogota, Colombia. According to Europol, the swathe of arrests sought to help make a dent in the number of cyber thieves buying flights with stolen and fake credit card details – a criminal trend which costs the airline industry $1bn annually.
It is also suspected that this type of credit card fraud is linked, in some cases, to other illegal activity such as drug and human trafficking, Europol stated.
“It is clear to the airlines that they are up against organized crime in this fight,” said Meta Backman of the European Airlines Fraud Prevention Group.
Throughout the investigation a total of 281 suspicious transactions were discovered and 118 people were arrested across a two-day field operation in 80 airports around the world.
The co-ordinated probe involved teams of airline officials, police officers and credit card companies. Representatives from major card companies such as American Express, MasterCard and Visa had met at EC3 to analyse their financial data and confirm suspicious transactions once notified by the airlines. Police officers were then awaiting the criminals at the airports.
Rob Wainwright, Europol’s director, expressed his confidence that law enforcement groups and the private sector would be able to continue to work together to help stop cybercrime.
“This international operation was the result of months of detailed planning between law enforcement, prosecuting and border control agencies, airlines and credit card companies, co-ordinated by EC3,” said Wainwright.
“We are reaching new levels with our co-operation and aim to become an ‘unbeatable alliance’ with aspirations to make cyber space as crime-free as possible for global citizens,” he added.