70 People Arrested for Airline Ticket Fraud

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Europol recently announced that a massive operation targeting online fraud and illegal immigration resulted in the arrests of 70 people in 23 countries worldwide on April 8 and 9, 2014.

The initiative took place at 68 airports in 32 countries. Representatives from 35 airlines and Visa, MasterCard and American Express worked with Europol's European Cybercrime Center (EC3), law enforcement officers from across the European Union, the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Colombian National Police to identify suspicious airline ticket purchases online using stolen or fake credit cards.

Representatives from the credit card companies checked the data against their own systems, while the International Air Transport Association (IATA) provided fraud intelligence, and additional data was provided by Frontex, Eurojust and Interpol.

Law enforcement officers then detained people in airports as they tried to travel using fraudulently obtained tickets.

The operation identified more than 265 suspicious transactions, and resulted in the detention of 113 people and the arrest of 70 in Austria, Bulgaria, Colombia, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.

"For many years, organized cybercriminal networks have relied on the assumption that law enforcement agencies could not work together in cyberspace and act quickly and effectively," Troels Oerting, head of EC3, said in a statement. "This operation again proves them wrong. Not only have law enforcement agents from several countries worked shoulder to shoulder with EC3 specialists in Europol’s operational centre for several days, but we have also involved experts from the private sector such as airlines and payment services."

"This successful operation is a milestone for all involved -- law enforcement and private partners -- and marks another goal accomplished in fighting cybercrime, a threat which is global by its very nature," Oerting added.