A former gate agent at Logan International Airport allegedly bilked her airline by canceling friends and relatives’ cheap domestic flights and re-booking them on costlier trips to international locales without authorization, legal filings show.
The suspect, Tiffany Jenkins, 30, allegedly defrauded her airline of about $785,000 during the 15-month scheme, and she told the FBI that she “wanted her family and friends to see the world and visit tropical destinations,” said an affidavit filed in US District Court in Boston.
Jenkins made her initial appearance there Thursday on a wire fraud charge stemming from the alleged scam. She did not enter a plea and was released on $10,000 unsecured bond, records show. Court papers didn’t identify the airline she worked for.
Her public defender didn’t immediately respond to inquiries seeking comment.
In a statement, US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office explained how Jenkins allegedly carried out her brazen crimes.
According to prosecutors, Jenkins had access to her company’s reservation database and could use a special code known as involuntary exchange, or “INVOL,” to swap out trips at no additional cost. It’s a service typically offered to customers who miss flights or have a death in the family, officials said.
“During a 15-month period, from approximately July 1, 2016, through Sept. 27, 2017, Jenkins allegedly conducted approximately 505 involuntary ticket exchanges for more than 100 different passengers,” the statement said. “Many of those exchanges occurred after the passenger was first booked on domestic flights at one of the airline company’s lowest available fares—often, roundtrip flights between Las Vegas, Nev., and Long Beach, Calif. A short time later, Jenkins exchanged those tickets for a completely different city pair, generally involving much more expensive international locations, for friends, family and acquaintances.”
Among the international spots were Turks and Caicos, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic, the affidavit said.
Her employer didn’t approve of the impromptu discounts, and Jenkins got canned after the alleged scheme came to light, according to the filing.
During an August interview with an FBI agent, Jenkins “acknowledged that she understood that the proper use of the INVOL transaction code was for flight cancellations or flight delays, but that she had improperly used the code to give friends, family and friends of family cheaper airfare to various destinations,” the affidavit said. Jenkins “said that she booked flights to cheap destinations and then used the INVOL code to change the destination to more expensive flights.”
According to the filing, Jenkins “admitted that what she did was wrong” and claimed she never personally received money from any of the travelers, beyond the cost of the original ticket.”
But her digital trail tells a different story.
“Record obtained from Cash App — a mobile payment service . . . show numerous payments to [Jenkins] from the passengers who traveled on the exchanged tickets. The payments in many instances appear to exceed the cost of the original tickets.”
Now, Jenkins has a ticket of her own: for a trip back to court on Nov. 28 for a probable cause hearing.
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