US: Employee scams airline of $785,000 using unique technique
A former employee of the American airline JetBlue could face 20 years in prison for scamming the airline of almost a million dollars. On Friday, Tiffany Jenkins (31) pleaded guilty to committing wire fraud to convert low-cost flights to more expensive international flights for friends, family, and acquaintances, causing JetBlue losses to the tune of $785,000. Here are more details.
Jenkins abused JetBlue's involuntary exchange function
A resident of Chelsea (Massachusetts), Jenkins pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud before a Boston federal court. Jenkins, a former Boston Logan Airport gate agent, violated JetBlue's involuntary exchange or "INVOL" code to change customers' flights at no additional cost. The code was designed to arrange alternative flights for customers who miss flights or experience a death in the family.
Jenkins exchanged 505 flights for 100 different passengers
However, between July 1, 2016-September 27, 2017, Jenkins was found to have used the "INVOL" code to exchange 505 flights for 100 different passengers. Most of those tickets were initially for inexpensive flights, often the roundtrip flights between Las Vegas (Nevada) and Long Beach (California), costing $45. These were later changed to much more expensive international locations, for friends, family, and acquaintances for free.
Over 15 months, Jenkins scammed JetBlue of $785,000
However, Jenkins' abuse of the involuntary exchange function left a paper trail that led the airline right back to her. According to The Boston Globe, over the 15-month period, Jenkins' fraud cost the airline a whopping $785,000.
Jenkins now faces up to 20 years in prison
According to the District of Massachusetts US Attorney's Office, Jenkins could face up to 20 years in prison for charges of wire fraud, followed by three years of supervised release. The charge also warrants a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross loss or gain, whichever is greater. Jenkins, who was arrested in November 2018, will be sentenced in January 2020.