Travel Agents

Travel agent charged for cheating airline out of $2.55m in rewards points

A Chicago based travel agency has been charged with allegedly cheating Delta Air Lines out of more than $2.55 million worth of reward points.

Gennady Podolsky, a Ukranian American and managing partner and travel agent at Vega International Travel Services Inc, was charged with 12 counts of wire fraud on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Once revered as a man who could “get you anywhere, anyhow”, Podolsky was described as having a “deep bag of tricks” in a Wired profile from 2016.

“We have to get very creative,” he told the magazine.

Apparently, one of those “tricks” was allegedly registering customers as employees of a fertility centre on Delta’s business rewards program.

Podolsky attorney alleges his client’s conduct was “not fraudulent” and allegations to the contrary are “simply wrong”

However, US Attorney Byung J. Pak said Podolsky took advantage of his clients and Delta Airlines to illegally reap “millions of SkyBonus points worth more than $1.75 million [US] dollars.”

Prosecutors allege Podolsky set up a SkyBonus account through a fertility centre owned by a family member of the agency’s president and booked tickets for his clients using that account fraudulently passing them off as employees, according to the Washington Post.

“Mr. Podolsky’s conduct was not fraudulent,” Seth Kirschenbaum and Nicholas Lotito of Davis, Zipperman, Kirschenbaum & Lotito, Podolsky attorneys said.

“Indeed, while the government says Delta is a victim, the evidence at trial will show Delta actually netted millions of dollars of profits from its relationship with Mr. Podolsky. The suggestion that Mr. Podolsky’s conduct somehow disadvantaged his clients is equally unfounded.”

In a statement, Delta Air Lines said it was happy to see any kind of fraud indicted and the airline will “continue to work with the FBI and the District Attorney’s office to make sure this case is prosecuted to its fullest extent.”

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