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Travel Agent Who Duped Delta to Pay $1 Million in Restitution

Travel Agent Who Duped Delta to Pay $1 Million in Restitution
Joe Cortez

A Ukranian-American travel agent that created a fake company to collect free travel vouchers aboard Delta Air Lines will pay $1 million back in restitution. Gennady Podolsky plead guilty to a federal count of trafficking in computer passwords for his part in the scheme.

A former travel agent that catered to travelers living abroad will pay $1 million back to Delta Air Lines, after pleading guilty to trafficking in computer passwords. The U.S. Department of Justice says 44-year-old Gennady Podolsky created a fake company for the purpose of signing up for a business frequent flyer account, which he would use to fraudulently collect free flight certificates.

Travel Agent Sets Up Fake Company for Customer Travel

According to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, Podolsky was managing partner and lead travel agent for Chicago-based Vega International Travel Service. During the course of his work, he learned about the Delta SkyBonus program, a frequent flyer program targeted at offering small businesses incentives for flying with Delta Air Lines.

To take advantage of collecting SkyBonus points on tickets he would book for customers, he created a “bogus” account under the name “RGI International.” Using the account password, an employee of Vega International would use the account to book client tickets using the SkyBonus number, even though there was no “RGI International,” and none of the flyers were employees. His scheme also forced some customers to use an alias when communicating with Delta, in order to not raise suspicion of his scam.

As a result, Podolsky was able to rack up points in the program, which he would then use to book free flights using Delta eCert reward certificates. U.S. attorneys say unlawfully creating and using the account to book flights and get rewards was an act of fraud.

“Companies or individuals who use travel agents trust them to work in their best interests,” U.S. attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said in a press release. “Podolsky violated that trust when he trafficked in passwords associated with Delta Air Lines SkyBonus accounts without authorization, fraudulently accruing Delta SkyBonus points for the purchase of eCert tickets.”

Under the terms of his plea deal, Podolsky will pay $1 million in restitution to the airline, and has agreed to never do business again with Delta. He will be sentenced on Jan. 27, 2021.

U.S. Attorneys Active in 2020 Prosecuting Aviation-Related Crimes

The year 2020 has been a busy one for federal prosecutors, as this is the third aviation-related crime that has reached a plea agreement in the last three months. In September 2020, attorneys prosecuted an American flyer who glitched chargebacks from their reservation systems, along with a former Mesa Airlines employees who created fake IDs so some could fraudulently travel on non-revenue tickets.

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