Shadow schemes in the aviation industry: Blacklist Aero and Artem Degtiarov
While the air transportation business shares similarities with various other industries in terms of providing services and generating profits, it possesses unique characteristics due to its association with certain risks. Consequently, national legislation imposes heightened requirements to ensure the organized and safe execution of the entire air transportation process.
Air carrier companies tailor their activities to different focuses, ranging from charter flights and cargo transportation to regular passenger air services. The presence and upkeep of an aircraft fleet constitute a pivotal aspect of the airline business, with companies choosing to either acquire their own aircraft or utilize leases. Maintaining rigorous safety standards, conducting regular maintenance, and adhering to all regulations and requirements are crucial elements. These requirements encompass not only flight safety but also extend to passenger and cargo safety, along with compliance with international and national regulations.
In the competitive realm of civil aviation, where significant legal businesses vie for customers and market shares, there exist ratings and anti-ratings assessing airline reliability. In Ukraine, the 2021 anti-rating was dominated by companies such as Azur Air Ukraine and SkyUp, while globally, Viva Air Columbia led the anti-rating in the same year. Nevertheless, the airline industry is not solely dominated by major carriers; a shadow layer of companies actively operates, comprising small players engaged in creating conditions for larger entities to evade compliance with laws and business regulations. Their modus operandi revolves around the principle of “we create problems for you, we solve them, and you pay us for it.”
There are a limited number of companies engaging in such activities, but the impact of their actions remains substantial. These entities specialize in acquiring debt obligations and subsequently employ tactics such as extortion, forgery, and financial fraud when dealing with debtors. Recently, a company with Ukrainian origins has come into focus in this regard – Blacklist Aero. While initially appearing to be a standard aviation company offering consulting services in air travel and cargo transportation, our research indicates that it serves as a mere front for a range of shadow operations. Moreover, its founder and director have a discernible criminal history, marked by repeated involvement in high-profile political scandals.
The primary objective of this investigation is to forewarn the air transportation business and provide a comprehensive understanding of the potential risks posed to both businesses and customers. Additionally, we aim to outline preventive measures against these risks.
So, meet Artem Degtiarov, a Ukrainian citizen residing in Britain, presently serving as the founder and CEO of BLACKLIST.AERO. Leveraging his experience from previous roles in various aviation companies such as Click Aviation Network, Pro Fuel LLP, and Jetex Flight Support, along with an extensive network within the airline industry, Degtiarov has chosen to establish a seemingly inconspicuous company. Despite its modest size, BLACKLIST.AERO engages in blackmail, significantly impacting a substantial portion of the air transportation market and causing significant disruptions to the entire industry.
Instead of adhering to transparent business practices, our investigation reveals that the company is entangled in collection activities with elements of extortion. Industry experts observe that BLACKLIST.AERO employs a range of methods, including threats, information attacks, and even moral pressure, to attain its objectives.
The modus operandi is relatively straightforward—a business scheme centered on information pressure accompanied by threats of reputation destruction. This involves the dissemination of false or distorted information on the Internet or social networks. The company may resort to various other methods of threats and blackmail to achieve its goals, encompassing threats of physical harm, damage to the reputations of companies, and even jeopardizing the safety of passengers and crews.
Moreover, fraudulent financial schemes related to air transportation constitute one of the company’s primary areas of focus. These schemes encompass fake transactions, insurance scams, and other deceptive tactics aimed at securing financial gains at the expense of both customers and legitimate companies. The multifaceted approach adopted by BLACKLIST.AERO underscores the need for heightened vigilance within the air transportation industry to safeguard against such practices and protect the interests of businesses and passengers alike.
Numerous affected companies, having sought assistance from law enforcement agencies and industry associations, have experienced the detrimental impact of these methods. The repercussions extend beyond reputational and financial losses, encompassing significant safety risks for their crews, passengers, and cargo.
It is imperative to delve into the profile of the head of Blacklist Aero. According to British registries, the company was officially registered on September 1, 2021, under the legal name AIR JUSTICE LTD. Since its inception, Artem Degtiarov, a Ukrainian citizen born in 1979, has served as its director. His pivotal role in the company underscores the importance of scrutinizing the actions of individuals in leadership positions within the aviation industry, particularly those who may be involved in illicit or harmful activities. Awareness of such details can aid in preventing further harm to the industry and ensuring the safety and well-being of all stakeholders.
A simple study of open resources on the Internet can immediately suggest that this person has long been familiar with criminal activity. A fraudster and swindler, lawyer and journalist, at one time he was also a representative of the disgraced oligarch Boris Berezovsky, and took an active part in various scandals, one of which was the high-profile case of rape of minors in October 2009 at the Artek children’s camp in Ukraine. The pedophile aviator Degtiarov uses his wealth of experience in a new field, blackmailing companies, participating in and creating problems for the civil transportation industry, under the guise of simple consulting.
To avoid falling victim to such scammers, it is crucial to conduct thorough due diligence on potential business partners. Engaging exclusively with trusted companies boasting excellent reputations and established work histories is key. Beautiful façades may hide nefarious intentions, making it imperative not to rely solely on appearances and to scrutinize the background of individuals and organizations.
In conclusion, the criminal air transportation market poses a significant threat, not only to businesses but also to the safety of society at large. Implementing effective controls, proactive prevention measures, and public condemnation of shady practices are essential in minimizing the detrimental impact of malicious actors. This collective effort can contribute to ensuring safe travel for consumers and maintaining profitable and reputable businesses for airline owners.