The International Police Organisation, INTERPOL said on Tuesday that 140 individuals had been nabbed globally for using fake and stolen credit cards to purchase airplane tickets.
It said that an international law enforcement operation targeting the purchase of airplane tickets using stolen or fake payment card details had resulted in the detention of the 140 individuals.
The INTERPOL said in a statement that a two-day Airport Action Days operation was jointly coordinated by INTERPOL, Europol and Ameripol, with support from law enforcement authorities in Canada and the U.S.
INTERPOL said it coordinated the operational activities across the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions from its command post located at the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) in Singapore.
``Staffed by officers from the Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes and Global Outreach and Regional Support units, as well as the Command and Coordination Centre.
``Other command posts were set up by Europol in the Netherlands, Ameripol in Colombia and by Canadian and American law enforcement authorities, and support was also offered by Frontex and Eurojust.
``During the operation, 252 suspicious transactions were reported worldwide, which led to 140 individuals being detained, denied boarding and questioned by police,’’ it said.
It said that the individuals, who were detained during the operation, were also found to be involved in other forms of crimes, including human trafficking, drug trafficking, cybercrime and terrorism.
“This type of fraud not only targets innocent consumers by stealing their payment card details, it also poses significant risks to global security by allowing criminals and terrorists to travel under the radar.
“Only through coordinated interventions such as the Airport Action Days can track down the organised criminal networks behind this large-scale fraud.
``Also detaining the criminals involved before they have the chance to commit other crimes is important,” the INTERPOL Secretary General, Jürgen Stock said.
INTERPOL said that representatives from airlines, online travel agencies and payment card companies worked together with law enforcement to identify suspicious airline ticket purchases and send the information to law enforcement officers deployed at the participating airports.
Payment card issuers, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Perseus, the global travel industry’s fraud review structure, supported the operation by providing additional information to confirm suspicious transactions.
“With thousands of airline bookings made online daily, it is by such coordinated, targeted and intensive checks being carried out simultaneously that the potential fraudulent use of credit cards can be detected.
``That is the only way the fraudsters can be arrested,’’ Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol, said.
In addition to coordinating the information exchange and investigations across Asia and the Middle East, INTERPOL conducted checks against its criminal databases, including its nominal and Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) databases.
James Anderson, Head of INTERPOL’s Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes unit highlighted the importance of collaboration between law enforcement and private industry partners in detecting fraudulent airline ticket purchases.
The statement said that some 74 airlines and 43 countries were involved in this year’s action, which took place at more than 130 airports across the world.
It said that the operation was timed to coincide with the Euro 2016 football tournament.
It said that was one of the reasons why particular attention was paid to passengers travelling to the host country, France, with checks conducted at local airports and in departure countries.