Continental Airlines agent accused in fake voucher scam
NEW YORK – A Continental Airlines sales agent is accused of selling hundreds of fake flight ticket vouchers making a million in sales that she spent like the sky was the limit.
Victoria Scardigno, who worked as an agent at Continental Airlines at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey was arrested on Thursday morning, said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
According to the Complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court Scardigno misappropriated hundreds of vouchers that the airline uses to compensate customers who had already paid for travel on Continental Airlines for flight delays, cancellations or situations in which customers were denied boarding due to, for example, overbooking.
After taking the vouchers, the agent hatched a scheme to sell them to prospective passengers, on the fraudulent pretext that they could be redeemed for a round-trip ticket anywhere in the world, according to the accusation.
“She sold over 1,750 such vouchers, at a purchase price of approximately $500 to $600. Scardigno took in approximately $1 million from the fraud, which was deposited directly into her personal bank account,” said the U.S. Attorney.
“In fact, Continental Airlines offers no such voucher program, and Scardigno’s representations that the vouchers could be redeemed for air travel were false,” Bharara said.
“When passengers attempted to redeem their vouchers through Scardigno, she used some of the fraud proceeds to purchase tickets for these passengers, in order to keep the fraudulent scheme going. As a result, since the cost of the tickets far exceeded the cost of the vouchers, most of the voucher purchasers were unable to redeem their vouchers,” said a statement.
“Scardigno used at least some of the illicit proceeds to pay off personal debts and to purchase thousands of dollars of luxury goods from stores such as Louis Vuitton and Coach,” according to the allegation filed in court.
The 32-year-old from Weehawken, New Jersey, is charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, and restitution.
Said Bharara: “Victoria Scardigno allegedly tricked hundreds of unsuspecting air travelers, promising them the benefits of a plan that turned out to be nothing more than a frequent fraud program. Instead of the tickets they paid for, the would-be passengers received worthless pieces of paper, while Scardigno allegedly got nearly a million dollars of their hard-earned money in return. This Office will continue to work closely with the FBI and corporate security departments like Continental’s to make sure those who hatch predatory frauds like this one do not go unpunished.”
“When it comes to dreaming up fraudulent schemes, it seems the sky is the limit. Would-be swindlers keep devising new ways to attempt to defraud. But they all make the same age-old mistake: they don’t think we’ll catch them,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge, Joseph Demarest, JR.
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