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Interpol crackdown on suspicious online airline ticket transactions


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fonte: economic times


Interpol has carried out a massive crackdown on suspicious online airline ticket transactions using fake or stolen credit cards.

More than 180 people have been arrested or detained during an operation coordinated by Europol and supported by Interpol at airports across Europe and the Americas to tackle credit card fraud and illegal immigration.

A two day operation was carried out on April 8 and 9 involving law enforcement agencies from across the world with support from the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), the EU border control agency Frontex and Eurojust. It targeted suspicious online airline ticket transactions using fake or stolen credit cards.

The crackdown took place at more than 68 airports in 32 countries: 24 EU member countries plus Brazil, Colombia, Iceland, Norway, Peru, Switzerland, Ukraine and the US.

Representatives from 35 airlines worked directly with the EC3, police agencies across the European Union, US Secret Service, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Colombian National Police and payment card companies Visa Europe, MasterCard and American Express to identify suspicious airline ticket sales made via the Internet.

After receiving alerts from airlines of more than 265 suspicious transactions, payment card companies reviewed the transactions using their own financial data systems and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) provided fraud intelligence.

Notifications were sent to airports across the world, where police detained criminals attempting to travel using fraudulently obtained flight tickets.

Interpol then assisted in the identification of wanted persons and stolen travel documents via its criminal databases, in particular the Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database. All alerts of suspicious passengers were checked against Interpol's databases, resulting in the arrest of a Brazilian national traveling from London to Malaga, Spain who was a convicted child abuser and the subject of a Green Notice issued by the US.

"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. This operation again proves them wrong," said Troels Oerting, Head of Europol's EC3.

Glyn Lewis, Interpol's director of specialized crime and analysis said hundreds of thousands of airline bookings are made online every day and the ticket issuer often has no way to verify the authenticity of the payment card being used, thus presenting a risk of fraud.

"It is only by such coordinated, targeted and intensive checks being carried out simultaneously that the potential fraudulent use of credit cards can be detected," he added. Interpol data shows that in 2013, passengers were able to board planes more than a billion times without having their passports screened against Interpol's databases.
In 2002, following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Interpol created its SLTD database to help countries secure their borders and protect their citizens from terrorists and other dangerous criminals known to use fraudulent travel documents.

The database has grown from a few thousand passports and searches to more than 40 million entries and more than 800 million searches per year, averaging 60,000 hits.
The US searches this database annually more 250 million times; the UK more than 120 million times and the UAE more than 50 million times.

The Austrian and Italian passports were added to Interpol's SLTD database after their theft in Thailand in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

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