The Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) has played a key role in helping local, state and national authorities bring down two separate global fraud schemes: one entailing a crime ring based in Africa, and the other involving 38 conspirators from across the United States, said Dottie Hogan, head of ARC’s Risk Management team.
“As part of our longtime commitment to assist in criminal investigations to mitigate fraud within the travel industry, ARC provided significant support to the authorities throughout both of these investigations,” Hogan said.
One scheme involved purchasing stolen credit card account numbers, electronically manipulating them onto computer images, emailing those images – along with fraudulent passport and driver’s license information – to travel agencies both in the U.S. and Canada to facilitate the fraudulent purchase of airline tickets, and ultimately selling the tickets to travelers, ARC said.
After a 10-month investigation by federal, state and local authorities, law enforcement officers arrived in the United States on June 28 with a Nigerian citizen who is alleged to have managed the crime ring out of Ghana. Ademola Adegoke has been indicted on multiple Federal counts of wire fraud, identity theft, access device fraud and conspiracy in the Eastern District of Virginia, ARC said.
In a separate scheme, reported by Travel Agent, an extensive network of alleged black market travel agents used stolen identities of thousands of victims to purchase tickets via airline websites for their customers with compromised credit cards.
This has resulted in losses of more than $20 million to numerous domestic airline companies, financial institutions, other merchants and cardholders. On July 9, Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that 38 defendants from across the United States had been charged in a series of indictments.
“Achieving success in investigations such as these oftentimes involves years of careful cooperation, however prevention is still the best way to combat fraud,” Hogan says. “We encourage the agency community to remain alert to phishing e-mails and telephone calls. There’s always a risk associated with accepting card-not-present transactions. Any documentation faxed or e-mailed can be altered, so we tell agents to stay vigilant.”
ARC recommends referencing its Fraud Prevention page as a resource for preventing fraud, as well as steps to take if an organization has been affected by fraudulent activity. Agents can also report suspicious activity to ARC’s Risk Management Department: ARC Fraud Hotline: (703) 816- 8137 or [email protected]. Visit www.arccorp.com.