Law enforcement agencies arrested 79 people involved in fraudulent online purchases of flight tickets

Law enforcement agencies arrested 79 people worldwide as part of the Global Airline Action Days operation to fight fraudulent online purchases of flight tickets

An international operation of law enforcement to fight fraudulent online purchases of flight tickets resulted in the arrest of 79 people as part of the Global Airline Action Days (GAAD). Crooks used compromised credit card data to buy flight tickets.

“Between 18 – 22 November 2019, 60 countries, 56 airlines and 12 online travel agencies were involved in the 12th edition of the Global Airline Action Days (GAAD), an international and multidisciplinary operation to fight fraudulent online purchases of flight tickets with compromised credit card data, which took place at more than 200 airports across the world.” reads the press release published by the Europol.

GAAD was coordinated from Command Posts at Europol in The Hague, INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore, Ameripol and in Bogota (Colombia), Canada and NCFTA (with the US Secret Service) in the US.

The law enforcement agencies investigated 165 suspicious transactions and identified 79 individuals suspected of traveling with airline tickets bought using . The individuals have been arrested or detained.

Some of the cases investigated by the authorities were linked to illegal immigration, passengers were traveling with counterfeited IDs or using stolen identities.

The operation also involved personnel from Eurojust along with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) that operated controls at 28 airports, and the Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP).

According to the Europol, representatives from airlines, online travel agencies, payment card companies, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), European Airline Fraud Prevention Group and Perseuss, also had an important role in the operation, thanks to their support the agents identified suspicious transactions.

The Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) and the Taskforce Travel Intelligence (TFTI) also joined in the operation.

Summarizing, it was a great operation that demonstrates the ability of so different agencies in collaborating with a shared goal, neutralize airline ticket frauds. It was also a great success for a cooperation and information exchange between the public and the private sector.

“Airline ticket fraud is borderless by nature. This operation was the culmination of many months of meticulous planning between Europol, law enforcement, judiciary and border agencies, airlines and credit card companies, and is a perfect example of how our combined forces can make distinctive contribution in the fight against these criminal syndicates operating across borders”, said Wil van Gemert, Europol’s Deputy Executive Director Operations.

“The Global Airline Action Day operation is an excellent example of how collaboration between the agencies as well as the public and private sectors serves to tackle and prevent crime such as credit card fraud. The operation was underpinned by professional commitment and mutual support across borders between national, regional and international police organizations”, said Paul Stanfield, INTERPOL Director, Organized & Emerging Crime.

The figures behind airline ticket frauds are impressive, it has been estimated that the airline industry’s losses have reached close to 1 billion USD per year.

“These online transactions are highly lucrative for organised crime and are often linked to more serious criminal activities including irregular immigration, trafficking in human beings, drug smuggling and terrorism.” concludes the Europol.