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Europe targets $1 Billion airline ticket fraud industry

December 3, 2014

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Operation Airline Action Day 4

It is a staggering number. Airlines around the world have lost $1 billion thanks to thieves who use fake or stolen credit cards to fraudulently purchase flights.

Europol — the European Union’s law enforcement agency — just completed a major crackdown on the fraud, working with 60 airlines in 45 countries, along with representatives from American Express, MasterCard, Visa Inc and Visa Europe.

The effort had two goals:

  • Target criminal online services offering credit card credentials and fake plane tickets
  • Protect consumers from these criminal enterprises.

The airlines and credit card companies worked with Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) to identify suspicious airline ticket transactions. The credit card companies used their own financial data systems to track and confirm suspected fraud after being alerted by the airlines.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade group for the world’s carrier, also participated in the Europol effort by providing important fraud intelligence from its database.

Once the information was confirmed, notifications were sent to transport hubs around the globe, with enforcement officers detaining suspects trying to travel using the fraudulent airline tickets. And Interpol agents helped by quickly identifying wanted persons and stolen travel documents.



International Air Transport Association


  • Benét J. Wilson

    Benét, known as the Aviation Queen, is a senior editor at TPG who is best known for being an aviation journalist for 25-plus years. Her love affair with travel and aviation began at age 6, when her Air Force family moved from California to a military...

    View all posts

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