TRAIN operator Northern has issued a warning to would-be digital ticket cheats.

The company, which runs services on the Wharfedale line, says a specialist team of investigators can follow "digital trails" to help pursue offenders.

Nearly 70 per cent of tickets for Northern trains are now bought via digital platforms.

A specialist fraud investigations team was established in 2021 following a surge in the method of ticketing.

Mark Powles, for Northern, says: "The 'old school' fare evader still exists but there’s a new generation that's trying to outsmart the system through a complex process of fraudulent refund requests and 'delay repay' claims.

"What these individuals might not realise is that, as with any electronic transaction, our systems are able to identify suspicious activity.

"Once our investigators are on the case, they can review all ticket transactions by an individual over several years and build a case if they suspect a pattern of criminal behaviour.

"One fraudulent claim today might uncover a backlog of similar activity that our team will pursue."

The fraud investigations team is part of Northern’s debt recovery and prosecutions unit, which in the last financial year has secured over 14,000 convictions for fare evasion and recouped £2.9m.