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Airport raids tackle cyberthieves over ticket fraud

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Media captionWil Van Gemert, Europol: This fraud costs up to a billion dollars a year

Cyberthieves who used stolen credit cards to buy airline tickets have been targeted in a series of raids.

Europol co-ordinated the raids at airports, targeting people who were trying to travel using a fraudulently bought ticket.

In total, 118 people were arrested at 80 airports in 45 countries during the raids.

Airlines lose more than $1bn (£640m) a year to the trade in fraudulent tickets, said Europol.

"Airlines are fighting credit card fraud on their ticket sales on daily basis," said Meta Backman from the European airline fraud prevention group in a statement. "It is clear to the airlines that they are up against organised crime in this fight."

Europol said the raids marked the start of an initiative called Global Airport Action, which will build on the links forged between police forces, airlines and credit card companies in preparation for the raids.

These links helped to spot when tickets bought with stolen cards were being used to check in at an airport during the two days of the action. Police officers then swooped on the individuals using the tickets. Command centres in The Hague, Singapore and Bogota helped to direct the checking of tickets and travel documents as well as identifying individuals arrested.

Some of those arrested were already known to police and had been arrested before for trading in tickets.

In a statement, Europol said the stolen credit cards also helped organised crime groups keep operating and to facilitate the drug trade and human trafficking.

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