top of page

Aviation sector warned to stay vigilant against criminal activity

The summer holidays are finally and here and with COVID restrictions finally tailing off, the airports are starting to fill up with holidaymakers as people head off abroad.

And yet, an undercurrent of corruption is also creeping into airports as they start to re-emerge from the pandemic. The National Crime Agency (NCA) has issued an alert to aviation employees as they are becoming more at high risk from organised crime groups as we move out of lockdown.

For example, as global restrictions on the movement of people and goods are further relaxed, the alert warns that staff who have detailed knowledge of controls and processes around the border could be targeted. These include airport operators, contractors, couriers and freight operators.

And this is where exploitation comes in. Those working internally with sensitive information may find themselves targeted by criminals and encouraged to provide this data in return for financial reward.

NCA Borders Threat Lead Beki Wright said: “The people behind these scams are high-harm criminals responsible for drug smuggling, gun running, money laundering and people trafficking.”

And this could extend into exploiting the cyber networks as well, such as introducing malware into a system to create disruption, or to steal data.

Scam victims

As customers start to return, airlines are now focussing on recruitment, investing money into bringing more pilots and flight attendants on board. This presents an opportunity for criminals to target vulnerable individuals looking for a new role.

Phishing and scams in relation to the advertisement of fake jobs is on the increase, which means that you need to do your homework before sending any information about yourself. And unfortunately, the surge in roles across the aviation industry has made the sector a key target.

What to lookout for:

· Be suspicious if the employer or agent provides a webmail email address such as @yahoo or @hotmail as a point of contact.

· Check any documents for poor spelling and grammar – this is often a sign that fraudsters are at work.

· Check official records on websites such as Companies House or overseas registries to confirm that the organisation offering you the job exists. If it does, contact the organisation directly through officially listed contact details to confirm the job offer is genuine.

· If you’re in discussion about a job abroad, ask the embassy representing the country where you believe you will be working how to obtain a visa and how much it costs. Check that the answers the potential employer gives you are the same – if they’re not, it’s a strong indication of fraud.

· Tell the employer that you will make your own travel and accommodation arrangements. Beware if they try hard to dissuade you or tell you that you have to use the agency they refer you to.

Reporting crimes: What do to if this happens to you.

Border Force Insider Threat and Integrity Team advises: “If you are or have been approached or you have information, please contact Crimestoppers anonymously, either online or by phone on 0800 555 111. If you have the means to report it through your employer or access to a whistle-blowing scheme, you can use that.”

Alternatively, crimes of this nature can be reported to Action Fraud.

Join the Eastern Cyber Resilience Centre (ECRC) with free core membership – we can provide up-to-date guidance, tools and details of threats in the region as well as affordable cyber services.


The contents of this website are provided for general information only and are not intended to replace specific professional advice relevant to your situation. The intention of The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East is to encourage cyber resilience by raising issues and disseminating information on the experiences and initiatives of others. Articles on the website cannot by their nature be comprehensive and may not reflect most recent legislation, practice, or application to your circumstances. The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East provides affordable services and Trusted Partners if you need specific support. For specific questions please contact us.

The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information or materials published on this document. The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East is not responsible for the content of external internet sites that link to this site or which are linked from it.

bottom of page