Story By: Ernest Bio Bogore, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
A man convicted of hacking airlines to get VIP tickets to travel the world has gone on trial in Belgium over a 15,000-GBP business class return trip to New York for him and his pals.
The hacker, who was not named, has already been on trial and found guilty in Belgium of hacking the computer booking systems of Lufthansa, Thalys, Mobistar, and Proximus, and now in the latest instance he is being prosecuted over a similar offence involving Brussels airlines.
It was not revealed which tickets he managed to obtain when hacking the other airlines for which he has already been found guilty.
But in the latest instance, the unnamed 25-year-old man appeared on Monday before the criminal court of Mechelen in the province of Antwerp in the Flemish Region of Belgium accused of hacking Brussels Airlines to get free business-class flights to New York for him and his buddies.
Local media report the man is accused of breaking into the ticketing system of Belgium’s flag carrier in 2016 to obtain free tickets.
Prosecutor Karel Berteloot said: “The man bought several tickets via a special application for employees only, cancelled them in order to get his money back, but then manipulated the URL of the tickets to be able to use them.
“In addition, he managed to book three business class tickets for a flight to New York, at a cost of almost 6,000 EUR (5,220 GBP) per ticket.”
Berteloot added: “The man would do better to use his talents legally, I ask for the sentence to be absorbed in previous convictions, with conditions of probation.”
Reports state the accused was found guilty of hacking into the computer systems of Lufthansa, Thalys, Mobistar, and Proximus in 2017, with the courts of Mechelen and Brussels granting him a two-year probationary suspension of his sentence.
Now he is on trial over hacking Brussels Airlines which is claiming around 20,000 EUR (17,500 GBP) in damages.
The airline’s lawyer, Michel Verhaegen, said: “We are claiming the cost of the three tickets to New York, some airport taxes for the cancelled tickets and 1,000 EUR (870 GBP) in additional fees we paid to secure the systems.”
However, the defendant’s lawyer, Sven Mertens, asked for the latter sum to be rejected because the man shared his knowledge of the weaknesses in the computer system.
Mertens said: “Since the last trials, no new incidents have been committed, they go back to the past. The conditions of probation have always been met, the man now has a temporary job with the possibility of obtaining a permanent contract.”
The trial is ongoing.
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