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Over 70 arrested in worldwide crackdown on airline fraud

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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.

During this international law enforcement operation, targeting airline fraudsters, 165 suspicious transactions were reported. Investigations have been opened and 79 individuals suspected of traveling with airline tickets bought using stolen, compromised or fake credit card details have been arrested or detained.

Some of the reported cases were linked to illegal immigration, where the arrested passengers were in possession of counterfeited IDs or valid documents from other persons from different nationalities.

It is worth noting that during the week of action, after receiving an alert on a suspicious transaction and starting the procedure of cooperation between the different partners, one individual was arrested on the basis of a European Arrest Warrant in a European airport and charged with parental abduction. He was trying to flee Europe and reach India with the child.

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

Eurojust assisted during the action days, together with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), which deployed officers to 28 airports. The Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP), implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in partnership with INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization (WCO) and counting the European Union as its main donor, also took part in law enforcement activities at airports in Africa, by deploying one officer at the main Command Post in Europol HQ.

Representatives from airlines, online travel agencies, payment card companies, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), European Airline Fraud Prevention Group and Perseuss, collaborated with Europol’s experts to identify suspicious transactions and provide confirmation to law enforcement officers deployed in the airports.

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