Former Airline Gate Agent Pleads Guilty to Cheating Airline Ticketing System
BOSTON – A Chelsea woman pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston in connection with using her position as an airline gate agent to convert low cost flights to more expensive flights and destinations for friends, family and acquaintances.
Tiffany Jenkins, 31, pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud. She was arrested and charged in November 2018. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf scheduled sentencing for Jan. 21, 2019.
As a gate agent, Jenkins had access to the airline’s computer reservation database and had the ability to use a special code, referred to as an involuntary exchange or “INVOL,” to change flights for customers at no additional cost. This code enables agents to change flights for customers who miss their flights or experience a death in the family.
During a 15-month period, from approximately July 1, 2016, through Sept. 27, 2017, Jenkins executed approximately 505 involuntary ticket exchanges for more than 100 different passengers. Many of those exchanges occurred after the passenger was first booked on domestic flights at one of the airline company’s lowest available fares—often, roundtrip flights between Las Vegas, Nev., and Long Beach, Calif. A short time later, Jenkins exchanged those tickets for a completely different city pair, generally involving much more expensive international locations, for friends, family and acquaintances.
The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross loss or gain, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara Miron Bloom and Mark Balthazard of Lelling’s Securities and Financial Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.