ATLANTA - Eric Donys Simeu, a citizen of Cameroon extradited from France, has been sentenced in Atlanta to more than four years in federal prison for a series of “phishing campaigns.”
According to the Atlanta U.S. attorney’s office, Simeu, who also went by the name of Martell Collins, was responsible for a series of “phishing campaigns” targeting customers of Global Distribution System (GDS) companies from July 2011 to September 2014.
The GDS companies impacted by Simeu’s criminal conduct included Travelport, which maintains a major presence in Atlanta, and Sabre, headquartered in Southlake, Texas.
A “phishing campaign” is the act of sending targeted emails to individuals acquire usernames and passwords. The emails masquerade as an official communication from a legitimate company to gain the recipient’s trust and deceive them into providing protected information.
GDS companies provide travel booking services to travel agencies and travel-related websites. Customers are issued login credentials used to authenticate their identity and facilitate the issuance of airline tickets on GDS servers.
Simeu and others used the stolen log-in credentials to access the servers of Travelport and Sabre and issue fraudulent airline tickets. Simeu and others then sold the tickets to customers, mostly in West Africa, for fractions of the actual cost, or used them for personal travel. The value of the fraudulent airline tickets exceeded $2 million.
On September 3, 2014, Simeu was arrested by French law enforcement pursuant to a federal complaint from the Northern District of Georgia. At the time of his arrest, Simeu was traveling from Casablanca, Morocco, to Paris, France, on a fraudulent airline ticket.
A Northern District of Georgia grand jury indicted Simeu on September 23, 2014, who was then extradited from France on May 19, 2016. Simeu had been in French custody since his arrest in September 2014.
Simeu pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud on December 13, 2016.
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