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Former Airline Employee Convicted on Fake ID Scheme

A former Mesa Airlines worker will face up to 20 years in federal prison for making fraudulent airline ID cards and using them to book free travel aboard Spirit Airlines. 32-year-old Hubbard Bell plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, for his part in the non-revenue travel scheme.

A former airline worker who made fake airline IDs so flyers could book non-revenue flights aboard Spirit Airlines will face up to 20 years in prison for his part in the con. AZFamily.com reports 32-year-old Hubbard Bell pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, ending his part in the still open case.

Worker Made Fake ID Cards for Flyers to Book Non-Revenue Travel

According to his 2018 indictment, Bell was arrested with 27-year-old Alphonso Lloyd and 28-year-old Kamille Jemison on charges of illegal possession of use of identity documents and aggravated identity theft. The U.S. attorney for the Central District of California accused the three of running a scheme to use falsified Mesa Airlines identity cards to book “non-revenue” space aboard Spirit Airlines.

The attorneys claim Bell was part of the group that used the fake IDs throughout 2016 and 2017 to book hundreds free flights for themselves and others across the United States, along with one flight to Nicaragua. While Lloyd was accused of using the fake ID to board a flight, Bell and Jemison stood accused of making the cards.

During his plea change to guilty, AZFamily.com reports Bell admitted to stealing the identities of other employees after being fired, including their names and ID numbers. Using this information, he booked 34 free flights, despite the fact he was no longer employed by the airline. In addition, Bell told the court he worked with the other two accused men to sell and create fake Mesa Airlines IDs for other travelers.

With the plea to wire fraud conspiracy, Bell reduces his maximum time in prison from 30 years to 20 years. Jemison and Lloyd have not changed their plea, and are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court. The two are scheduled to go to trial in 2021, and could face up to 37 years in prison.

Attorneys Actively Work to Cut Down on Flyer Fraud

Although the case is unique, it’s not the only time an airline employee has tried to use loopholes to get free flights. In 2018, a Cathay Dragon pilot was forced to repay over $36,000 to Air Canada and perform community service after getting caught using a “secret shopper” program to get free flights.

dts6b September 4, 2020

It has been more than 30 years since I worked for an airline. A co-worker was told to resign or be fired. He purposely "lost" his airline ID and requested a replacement card so that he would still have an ID to buy reduced fare tickets on other airlines. By "losing" his original card, he could still turn in his replacement card on his last day. However, I would imagine that today's ID cards would have bar codes and other security features that make counterfeiting almost impossible. I would think (hope?) that ticket agents would be able to verify IDs before issuing a ticket. My ex-coworker lived in a city with one of the airline's ticket offices and had to go in person to purchase tickets. I don't know how successful he was after he left the airline. (I would have fired him on the spot instead of letting him resign, but that is another story.)

polinka September 3, 2020

I'm actually surprised this hasn't happened before. While I think it is stealing and should be punished to set a precedent and a deterrent, 20 years IMO is ridiculous.

AADFW September 3, 2020

I realize this was a very serious crime, but 20-30 years seems like a totally crazy amount of time for a nonviolent crime of this scale. Especially in the federal system where there is no parole.