Pattaya Daily News

07 July 2009 :: 10:07:34 am 8942

Nigerian In Thailand Behind Bahamasair Fraud

NASSAU — Police have revealed that a Nigerian native living in Thailand is the alleged mastermind behind a $400,000 credit card scam at Bahamasair through which hundreds of Bahamians were swindled.
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Bahamasair officials in recent months have reportedly been working closely with police to crack down on the fraud, which reportedly involves criminals stealing credit card numbers to book flights.

Inspector Sandra Miller of Police Community Relations told The Nassau Guardian that police have zeroed in on a Nigerian national. Police say the scam has been operating since January.

She said since the scam was uncovered by police a month ago, eight Bahamians were questioned by police but later released as investigators sought to gather more evidence.

“We know that this summer, we have a lot of people travelling and looking for good deals when it comes to tickets,” Miller said. “Now between January (and) June 2009, the police (have) discovered a developing trend. Police at the Commercial Crimes (Unit) noticed a web- site…operated by a Nigerian national who resides in Thailand.”

Police allege that the Nigerian first gained interest in The Bahamas after he befriended a Bahamian woman in Cuba. Police also allege that once the pair returned to their separate homelands, the man contacted the woman asking her to recruit Bahamians to solicit clients for his site which promised cheap round-trip tickets.

“So this Bahamian woman recruited a number of Bahamians to assist her (in) soliciting Bahamians from the wider public to get them low ticket prices to the Family Islands, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and places Bahamians would like to go,” Miller said.

Police allege the scam spanned international boundaries as local solicitors convinced ticket buyers to wire money to the Nigerian’s account in Thailand.

Police allege that once the money was sent, the Nigerian used a stolen credit card and logged onto Bahamasair’s website to purchase a ticket and e-mail a confirmation number and flight itinerary back to the Bahamian buyer.

“These individuals would go to the airline, some of them travelled one leg of their journey and (then found out) they couldn’t get back,” she said.

“The legitimate (cardholders) checked their credit card bill and realized they didn’t purchase these trips so they contacted Visa and MasterCard to have the charges reversed, leaving Bahamasair at a loss and Air Jamaica at a loss, and most importantly, the Bahamian people who purchased these tickets.”

Miller claimed that in some cases, the Nigerian was charging buyers as little as $100 for a round-trip flight to Florida.

The Guardian understands that 60 to 65 percent of Bahamasair’s tickets are now purchased with credit cards and the growing use of this form of payment has resulted in an escalation of fraudulent practices.

Due to the increase in credit card fraud, airline officials have reportedly put in place measures to address this trend. Those measures reportedly include improved software and more efficient payment procedures.

In light of the recent scam, Miller insisted Bahamians must be more cautious when making credit card payments.

“When you hear these things, you really need to sit down and ponder and think first before you make these decisions to part with your money,” she said. “I know we have a lot of victims out there and I would hope that they would come forward and contact the Commercial Crimes section so that we can deal with this (Nigerian con man) and all of those persons who assisted him in facilitating this scam.”

Reporter : Methawee   Photo : Internet   Category : Crime News

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