A gang used fake boarding passes to dodge airport security and illegally purchase 2.3million duty-free cigarettes at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton airports between February 2009 and May 2010.
Members of the gang purchased thousands of cigarettes in the duty free shops at airports across the UK using counterfeit boarding cards, or one-way open tickets. They would then either exit the airport through domestic arrival channels, or travel internally on a domestic flight to continue the fraud at other duty free shops.
Boarding cards were forged to make it look as though they were going outside the EU so they had a higher duty-free allowance.
The HM Revenue & Customs press release did not say how the fake boarding passes were produced. It is likely to have been a Self Print Boarding Pass. It is not known if the fake passes were scanned at the airports. If they were scanned it is also no known what details were checked and how.
In June 2011, Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi, 24, a Nigerian-born man who was found with the stolen ID and up to 10 old boarding passes containing various names, was arrested after attempting to board a flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta; five days after passing through security at New York’s JFK airport to board a plane with a day-old boarding pass. It is unclear how Noibi managed to get through security at both airports.