Europol arrests 118 people in connection with airline ticket frauds

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The European police agency, Europol, has taken a total of 118 people into custody last week in connection with online fraud against airlines. The arrested criminals are suspected of fraudulently purchasing plane tickets online using stolen or fake credit card data.

The arrests took place at over 80 airports across the world on November 26 and 27, via the Global Airport Action, an alliance formed by centers at Europol in The Hague, Interpol in Singapore and Ameripol in Bogota. More than 60 airlines and 45 countries were involved.

Representatives from airlines and major card companies including American Express, MasterCard, Visa Inc and Visa were present at Europol’s investigation centers to assist in identifying suspicious airline ticket transactions.

“This operation is another example of law enforcement and the private sector working seamlessly together to prevent and fight cybercrime, this time identity theft and credit card fraud,” said Europol director Rob Wainwright.

“We are reaching new levels with our cooperation and aim to become an ‘unbeatable alliance’ with aspirations to make cyberspace as crime free as possible for global citizens.

“Europol’s EC3 will continue to invest heavily in conducting similar operations and other activities that will make life harder for cyber criminals.”

As according to Europol figures, the airline and travel industry suffers huge financial losses amounting to around $1bn (£639m) a year from fraudulent ticket booking transactions.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, European commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, welcomed Europol’s take on online crime saying that “This major step, taken on a European and global scale, links all key stakeholders to solve problems in one of the most affected areas of cybercrime. Our aim is to act in concert to protect our societies and citizens.”

“Cybercrime is becoming a ‘service’ that organized crime groups buy and use, so we have to be ready and boost the capacity of our law enforcement agencies to act effectively.”