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Travel agency cheated road to 42M Delta frequent flyer points, says feds




A Chicago travel agent is accused of committing fraud that netted him 42 million Delta SkyBonus points worth more than $ 1.75 million.

A federal grand jury indicted Gennady Podolsky, a dual Ukrainian and US citizen, this week on 12 counts of wire fraud.

U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said that Podolsky used his position as managing partner and leading travel agency of Vega Travel Services, Inc., to design and implement the scheme to fraud Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.

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Delta's SkyBonus program is the business-focused version of the program's frequent flyer. Pak said Podolsky made sure to register a SkyBonus account in the name of a fertility center owned by a relative of Vega Travel's president.

When Podolsky ordered Delta flights for his clients who were not affiliated with the fertility clinic, he wanted to use the clinic's SkyBonus account, and fraudulently accrued millions of points, according to Pak.

He then used the points for free flights and other benefits, the US attorney said.

"Podolsky used his knowledge of the travel industry to take advantage of his travel agency clients," Pak said. "Through his access, he allegedly took advantage of Delta Air Lines corporate frequent flyer program and illegally reaped millions of SkyBonus points worth more than $ 1[ads1].75 million."

The FBI investigated the case. Chris Hacker, special agent in charge of the FBI Atlanta, said the government would appeal to anyone involved in similar scams.

"The false accumulation of frequent aviation environments in the travel industry may seem like a victimless crime, but large companies are resisting losing substantial profits," Hacker said.

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