A total of 195 individuals suspected of travelling with airline tickets bought using stolen, compromised or fake credit card details were detained on Tuesday, Europol has announced.
During a major international law enforcement operation targeting airline fraudsters, that took place from October 16 to 20, 61 countries, 63 airlines and 6 online travel agencies were involved in the tenth edition of the Global Airport
Action Days (GAAD) which took place at over 226 airports across the world, Xinhua quoted the European Union's law enforcement agency as saying.
Europol said several people were caught trying to traffic drugs from Latin America to Europe, frequently flying back and forth using fraudulently purchased tickets.
Representatives from airlines, online travel agencies, payment card companies and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) worked together with experts from Europol's European Cybercrime Center to identify suspicious transactions and provide confirmation to law enforcement officers deployed in the airports.
The IATA estimates that the airline industry loses over $1 billion per year as a result of the fraudulent online purchases of flight tickets.
Fraudulent online transactions are highly lucrative for organised crime and are often purchased to facilitate more serious criminal activities including illegal immigration, trafficking in human beings, drug smuggling and terrorism.
The GAAD was organised through coordination centres at Europol in The Hague, INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore and Ameripol in Bogota, and was supported by Canadian as well as US law enforcement authorities through the NCFTA in Pittsburgh.
Eurojust, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), the Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) and the World Customs Organization (WCO) also assisted the action.