Travel Agent Scams Delta Air Lines Out Of 42 Million Frequent Flyer Miles, Equivalent To 1.75 Million Dollars
By Kelsey Marie
A travel agent is in deep trouble after allegedly scamming 42 million frequent flyer points from Delta Air Lines, adding up to a 1.75 million dollar value.
Gennady Podolsky is a dual American and Ukranian citizen who worked as a managing partner at Vega International Travel services, a Chicago-based travel agency.
Podolsky, 42, has been charged with wire fraud for using Delta’s SkyBonus program to accumulate SkyMiles by linking customers of the travel agency to a fertility center, which is owned and operated by a family member of Vega’s president.
According to Delta Air Lines, a company is allowed to accumulate SkyBlue points under the terms of the program as long as the passenger traveling is an employee of the business.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Northern Georgia released an indictment saying that “between March 2014 and April 2015, Podolsky used an account registered in the name of the fertility center to fraudulently accrue and redeem more than 42 million SkyBonus points.”
The indictment also revealed Vega International Travel Services had only clients of Russian and eastern European descent who were living abroad. Podolsky would book the client’s tickets on Delta and then link the SkyBonus account of the fertility center with their tickets. He then fraudulently redeemed the points “by requesting, receiving and utilizing reward certificates for free air travel and other valuable benefits.”
U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Park says, “Podolsky used his knowledge of the travel industry to take advantage of his travel agency clients. Through his access, he allegedly took advantage of Delta Air Lines corporate frequent flyer program, illegally reaping millions of SkyBonus points worth more than 1.75 million dollars.”
Podolsky was indicted on September 11 by a federal grand jury.
The FBI is currently investigating the case.
“The fraudulent accumulation of frequent flyer miles in the travel industry may seem like a victimless crime, however, large corporations stand to lose significant profits,” says Special Agent Chris Hacker who is in charge of FBI Atlanta.
Hacker went on to say, “The FBI will do everything in its power to protect companies and to stop anyone who participates in this corrupt behavior.”
Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie