The managing director of a Chicago travel agency has been indicted for carrying out $1.75 million fraud on Delta Air Lines’ SkyBonus frequent-flyer program catering to businesses whose employees often travel.
According to a release published Friday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Georgia, 43-year-old Gennady Podolsky—a dual Ukrainian and American citizen and managing partner of Vega International Travel Services, Inc.—earned and redeemed more than 42 million SkyBonus points.
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“Podolsky used his knowledge of the travel industry to take advantage of his travel agency clients,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak in a statement. “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.”
Chicago-based Vega Travel is a small, full-service travel agency that catered to clients of Russian and Eastern European descent living abroad, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
From March 2014 to April 2015, Podolsky, Vega Travel’s lead travel agent, is alleged to have created a SkyBonus account for a fertility center owned by a relative of the agency’s president. He’s accused of entering the fertility center’s SkyBonus information when his customers flew Delta and booked through Vega Travel even though they weren’t employees and had zero ties to the fertility center.
Podolsky allegedly redeemed the fraudulently accrued SkyBonus points by requesting, receiving and utilizing reward certificates for free air travel and other benefits.
Podolsky was arraigned on 12 counts of wire fraud. 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,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI will do everything in its power to protect companies and to stop anyone who participates in this corrupt behavior.”