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The United States Attorney’s Office, Central District of California (Los Angeles) has announced that a man who fraudulently booked airline reservations by pretending to be a flight crew member pleaded guilty on Jan. 21 to a federal wire fraud offense.
The defendant, Gilbert Myers Jr., 38, of Atlanta, Georgia, pleaded guilty in federal court in Los Angeles to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, a charge that carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. Myers admitted to orchestrating a conspiracy to defraud air carriers in which travelers would illegally board aircrafts while pretending to be employees of other airlines. In exchange for arranging their travel as “non-rev” employee travelers, Myers typically charged approximately $2,000 for one year of unlimited free flights.
Myers fraudulently booked hundreds of flights on airlines such as AirTran Airways, JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines and United Airlines.
The fraudulent travelers utilized Myers’ services to fly in and out of Los Angeles airports by pretending to be in-flight crew members employed by other airlines. To obtain boarding passes and stand-by tickets, Myers called the airline reservation call center and gave representatives the name of a traveler, the airline he supposedly worked for, a bogus employee identification number, and a date of hire.
Myers typically lied to the airline representatives and said he worked on a flight crew for another airline, according to court documents.
Myers advised the fraudulent travelers to avoid detection by dressing appropriately and how to respond to questions about their employment at another airline. With the fraudulently obtained boarding pass and their real photo identification, the fraudulent travelers were allowed access to Transportation Security Administration security screenings, and were fully screened.
In the plea agreement, Myers admitted to several specific, fraudulent booking calls. As part of the conspiracy, Myers acknowledges that he “fraudulently booked these and hundreds of other flights with victim airlines.”
Myers pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson, who scheduled a sentencing hearing for April 30. In the plea agreement, Myers agreed that the judge may order him to pay restitution to the airlines. Attorneys in the case agreed that the applicable amount of restitution is approximately $91,660.
The case against Myers is the result of an investigation by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
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