A ticket agent for Continental Airlines has gotten caught with her hand in the voucher jar, allegedly selling fake ticket vouchers and pocketing the cash… to the tune of $1 million.
Federal prosecutors claim the agent, who worked out of Continental’s hub at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, “misappropriated” hundreds of vouchers usually used by the airline to compensate passengers for delays, cancellations and overbookings.
The feds say the ticket agent then sold the vouchers to passengers under the pretext that they could be redeemed for a round-trip ticket anywhere in the world.
According to authorities, the suspect unloaded more than 1750 vouchers at a price of between $500 and $600 each.
In the complaint filed in federal court, the agent sold most of these vouchers through two yet unnamed individuals, who then allegedly provided her with names of people who expressed an interest in paying for these vouchers along with the number of vouchers they were hoping to purchase. The agent then provided her two accomplices with the fake vouchers and false PIN numbers.
In order to keep the scheme afloat, the ticket agent was forced to pay out of pocket when the voucher purchasers attempted to redeem the tickets. According to court documents, she paid more than $587,000 toward tickets out of the money she received from the fake vouchers.
Meanwhile, with the profits from the scam, she spent at thousands at Louis Vuitton and Coach stores… oh, and she paid off some debt.
Had she been able to continue selling the vouchers at a rate that outpaced voucher redemption, the agent would have been able to continue making a profit while paying for airfares with the income from the new sales.
But in Nov. 2009, Continental got wind of the voucher scheme and suspended the agent, who was ultimately dismissed in Dec. 2009.
She attempted to keep the scheme going even after she was suspended by having other Continental agents buy the tickets for her.
The agent has been charged with wire fraud and faces up to 20 years in prison.