Mother and Daughter Plead Guilty to Defrauding Travel Agencies and Airlines with Ticket Fraud Scheme
Las Vegas, Nev. - A mother and daughter who defrauded local travel agencies and major air carriers of money and property by unlawfully accessing the airline reservation system so they could obtain and sell first class airline tickets at a discount, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
SUSAN CARTER, age 55, of Las Vegas, and her daughter, JAIME ABARGHOIE, age 27, both of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty on Tuesday, February 7, 2006, before U.S. District Judge Lloyd D. George. CARTER pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of fraud by wire, and criminal forfeiture. ABARGHOIE pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and criminal forfeiture. The maximum penalties for each count are up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. They are scheduled to be sentenced before Judge George on Friday, May 12, 2006, beginning at 2:30 p.m.
In entering their guilty pleas, SUSAN CARTER and JAIME ABARGHOIE, admitted that from about November 2000 to August 2003, they induced local travel agencies to permit them to use an automated reservation system, which the agencies used to make airline reservations and to obtain airline tickets. The defendants did so by making false representations to the travel agencies, such as that they were interested in purchasing the agency or that they were outside sales agents who serviced frequent flier customers. At various times during the period of the scheme, the defendants established and maintained businesses, such as Skye-River and Carter Entertainment, in order to effect the conspiracy to defraud. Once the defendants gained access to the reservation system, they caused it to issue First or Business Class tickets on major air carriers at a price that were much less than the published fare. The defendants then sold the tickets to unwitting air travelers for a price far in excess of that by which they were obtained through the reservation system, and kept for themselves the difference between the fraudulent ticket price and the price they charged to travelers. The losses, estimated to be in excess of $1 million, fell upon the travel agencies and major air carriers.
Two such examples of the fraud noted in SUSAN CARTER's plea memorandum include, on June 2, 2001, SUSAN CARTER was involved in the sale of a Delta Airlines ticket to a passenger for $1,758.08, when the published fare was $9,940.56, and between December 2004 and March 2005, SUSAN CARTER was involved in the sale of a Swiss Air ticket to a passenger for $1,135.88, when the published fare was $13,098.69.
A third defendant, SUSAN CARTER's husband GREG CARTER, has also been charged with Conspiracy, Wire Fraud and Money Laundering for his alleged role in the offense, and is scheduled for trial beginning March 20, 2006.
Local travel agencies affected were Boulder City Travel, in Boulder City, Nevada; One Stop Tours and Travel of Las Vegas, in Las Vegas; Aristocrat Travel in Las Vegas; and Above and Beyond Travel in Henderson, Nevada. The victim airline carriers include American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Continental Airlines, and Swiss Air.
Defendants SUSAN CARTER and JAIME ABARGHOIE have agreed to forfeit up to $1,760,000 in personal and real properties derived from the proceeds of their crimes. Those properties include approximately $115,000 in cash; real property at 3009 Beach View Court and 3317 Chesterbrook Court in Las Vegas; a 1996 Mercedes Benz sedan; a 1994 Rolls Royce sedan; and a 2001 Ford Mustang.
The case is being investigated by Special Agents with the United States Secret Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven W. Myhre and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nancy J. Koppe and Daniel D. Hollingsworth.