GERMANY: Widespread cases of fraud involving the purchase of the flat-fare Deutschland-Ticket have been uncovered.

Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Main had reported a number of fraudulent transactions in March, but the problem has since become more common, with Dresdner Verkehrsbetriebe warning on May 22 that numerous cases of criminal activity involving purchase of the popular ticket had led to losses of around €1∙4bn. ‘Nearly all transport undertakings’ in Germany are understood to have been affected, DVB warned.

The scam hinges on criminals providing false or stolen account details, with DVB alone citing 15 000 cases. The transport authority said that it was difficult to estimate the full extent of stolen account data as victims first have to notice the fraud and then demand back money that had been incorrectly debited.

To prevent further cases of fraud, DVB says it is currently only possible to order the Deutschland-Ticket as a chip card, with online purchase from a smartphone using SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) direct debit only possible for existing customers.

The problem appears to have arisen because, in an attempt to simplify purchase of the tickets, the usual bureaucratic procedures with credit checks were deemed unnecessary.