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Travel agency scams Delta for $ 1.75 million in frequent flyer miles, prosecutors say




The managing partner of a small, Chicago-based travel agency is accused of cheating Delta for nearly $ 2 million in frequent flyer miles.

Gennady Podolsky, a 43-year-old dual Ukrainian and US citizen, was arraigned on charges of wire fraud Friday, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia said in a statement.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on 12 counts of wire fraud.

The prosecutors say that Podolsky used travel agency clients' trips to manipulate the airline's rewards program for companies.

"Through his access, he allegedly exploited Delta Airlines' large flyer program, illegally raising millions of SkyBonus points worth more than $ 1[ads1].75 million," Chris Hacker, FBI Special Agent in charge of the Atlanta office, said that in a statement.

Under the airline's SkyBonus program, companies can sign up and earn points every time employees travel.

Podolsky is accused of planning to have the voyages and miles of Vega Travel customers apply to a fertility center account run by a relative under the guise that all agency customers were business pilots under Delta's SkyBonus program, prosecutors said.

He allegedly then used these points to get perks like free flights.

"The fraudulent accumulation of frequent aviation environments in the travel industry may seem like a victimless crime, but big companies will lose significant profits," Hacker said. [19659002AcclaimerAccordingtoApplicationInstMarch2014toApril2015PodolCloudsApproachedtoDelftAAirLinesutavmerenn42millionsSkyBonusPoints

Email to two attorneys listed in court documents representing Podolsky was not immediately returned.

Podolsky was Vega Travel's managing partner and leading travel agency. Many of the company's customers lived abroad and were of Russian or European descent, prosecutors said.

Delta is headquartered in Atlanta. An email contact for Vega Travel was not immediately found Friday night. The site seemed to be down.

Podolsky surrendered to FBI agents outside the Atlanta federal courthouse Thursday and was arrested, posting a $ 50,000 bond and being released, according to court records.

In a statement to NBC News, Delta said that the airline is "pleased to see some kind of fraud charges" and that it will continue to cooperate with the FBI and the US Attorney's Office "to ensure that this case is prosecuted in its full degree. "



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