On Thursday, May 11, police in Greece arrested a criminal gang selling fake pilot licenses. The gang gave instructions to students who were training to become airline pilots via an intercom system during exams.
Three Greek individuals associated with the gang have been arrested for the sale of fake pilot licenses and at least two trainee pilots have also been arrested.
According to the police, the gang has been operational since January this year. They charged trainee pilots thousands of euros in exchange for guarantees that they would pass their pilot exams.
Fake pilot licenses sold by Greek criminal gang
Authorities have apprehended three individuals from Greece, aged 70, 43, and 69, who are suspected of being affiliated with a criminal group. Additionally, two trainee pilots, aged 28 and 42, have been taken into custody. The case dossier also contains the identities of three other individuals, aged 48, 38, and 34, who are implicated in the matter.
Journalist Vassilis Lambropoulos appeared during the Live News program and said that the alleged mastermind of the group was identified as the aforementioned 70-year-old. It is reported that he previously worked as a steward at Olympic Airlines. Following the conclusion of his tenure, he acquired a pilot’s license and has been operating small aircraft.
During the arrest, the police seized €5,570. They also confiscated a number of items used by the gang to enable their clients to cheat, including seven miniature cameras, nine “lice” type headphones, two shirts embedded with concealed micro cameras, as well as sim cards, USB sticks, and other digital storage devices.
How the criminal gang operated
The recipients of the fake pilot licenses were mostly either trainees who had failed previous examinations or students who could not be bothered to study and did not want to take the tests legitimately.
Trainee pilots who paid for the services of the criminal gang would attend examinations wearing concealed audio and visual devices which would allow the criminals to instruct them to select the correct answers.
The gang reportedly preferred the examinations officiated by Austro Control because the examination questions were available online, which gave the criminals a chance to identify the correct answers.
The gang even had certain protocols in place to allow foreign aviation students and those studying abroad to obtain fake pilot licenses.
For candidates who attended a pilot school outside the country, the criminal organization would provide them with a forged certificate of studies from a related school affiliated with the organization, located in a city in Northern Greece. This certificate would falsely validate the candidate’s completion of the theoretical course.
Candidates from foreign countries who resided abroad underwent examinations at the organization’s facility in Greece, discreetly avoiding detection of their activities.
The police currently estimate that the gang made about €40,000 in total, and charged an average of €7,800 for a fake pilot license. However, for a fee of €25,000, it is believed that the gang would organize for the examinations to be held in Amman in Jordan, where a pass was assured even if the candidate did not answer the questions correctly, although investigators do not yet know how this was achieved.
At least five candidates are known by the police to have received fake pilot licenses from the gang.
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