Eric Donys Simeu, 32, of Cameroon, was officially indicted on May 20, 2016, of using phishing emails to access the GDS network of several air travel companies and issue fraudulent airplane tickets for a whopping total of $2 million.
Authorities say Simeu sent out countless phishing emails between July 2011 and September 2014. All emails targeted employees of air travel businesses and were created to mimic official company communications, in order to trick victims into accessing fake websites and enter their GDS logins.
GDS stands for Global Distribution System, which is a computer network used by companies from the tourism and air travel business to access official airline servers and buy or make air ticket reservations.
Simeu resold tickets in Africa at a fraction of their real prices
Simeu’s efforts paid off, and US officials say he obtained the GDS login credentials for two companies, one from Atlanta, Georgia and another from Southlake, Texas.
Authorities claim that Simeu then logged into the GDS network using these credentials and issued numerous airline tickets, which he either used for his personal travels or resold to customers in West Africa at a fraction of their real price.
The FBI estimates that the consequences of Simeu’s actions caused over $2 million in damages to the airline companies.
Simeu was arrested in September 2014
French police arrested Simeu on September 3, 2014, when he used one of the fraudulent tickets to travel from Casablanca, Morocco to Paris, France. Local authorities discovered that Simeu was using a fake identity, of a man named Martell Collins. He was also found in the possession of a fake UK password under the same name.
US authorities managed to extradite Simeu to the United States. Simeu was charged with federal charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, computer fraud and access device fraud.
“Cybercrime is borderless, but increasingly, so too are our law enforcement capabilities,” U.S. Attorney John Horn said on Friday. “With the cooperation of France and our international law enforcement partners, we were able to bring to justice a wanted fugitive who was allegedly committing cyber fraud that affected U.S. companies from the streets of West Africa.”