The growing trends in credit card fraud have now hit KLM, the Royal Dutch Airlines, according to an intelligence report by the Holland-based investigative organization Ultrascan-AGI, forcing the airline to ban online and telephone sales of tickets to most destinations in Africa.
The report which was sent to ghanabusinessnews.com also included a recorded telephone conversation between an Ultrascan investigator and KLM staff. We have listened to the recording but we are not permitted to publish.
The fraudsters have hit KLM so hard leading to huge losses leaving the airline with no choice but to ban the sale of tickets to most destinations from and to Africa by phone and online. It is not clear when KLM placed the ban, but in the recorded conversation, the KLM staff is heard clearly telling the investigator that the airline was not allowing ticket sales by phone and online. Before then passengers could buy tickets using their credit cards online or by telephone.
In the recording, the KLM staff told the investigator he would have to go to the airport to make payments with his credit card to purchase the ticket.
According to the report, the crime has been traced mostly to Nigerian and Russian gangs. Ultrascan says its investigations traced the crime to Russian gangs who sell the credit card details or a fake hard copy to Nigerian gangs who then use these to purchase train or airline tickets.
“During years of investigations into Nigerian fraud organizations, Ultrascan-AGI recorded that from 2008 these crime organisations have professionalised their sales of airline tickets which they buy with stolen credit card details,” it said.
The report said “they can buy the credit card details from websites operated by Russian cyber crime gangs that sell the stolen ID’s and card details at a cheap rate. Prices vary from $5 for only the details, to $65 for an exact plastic copy. (From august 2007 Ultrascan-AGI analysed an average of 140 significant card fraud and ID theft incidents per month).”
According to Ultrascan, they have contacted KLM Media Relations on three occasions before and after the recording was done but on all occasions they have denied that KLM was blocking online and telephone sales.
Meanwhile, a report on the website tradingmarkets.com on March 8, 2010 says the Air France-KLM Group reported that it carried 4,779,000 passengers in February 2010, down 2.2% compared to the same month last year.
Revenue passenger kilometres (traffic) for the month fell by 0.6% compared to February 2009, while available seat kilometres (capacity) dropped by 5.0%, resulting in an increase in load factor of 3.5 percentage points at 77.7%.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi