U.S. News

Travel agent charged with scamming Delta out of 42 million reward miles

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A manager at a Chicago travel agency has been charged with “illegally reaping” more than 42 million Delta Air Lines miles worth more than $1.75 million by registering customers as employees on the airline’s business rewards program.

The U.S. Justice Department said on Friday that Gennady Podolsky, a Ukrainian and American citizen and managing partner and travel agent at Vega International Travel Services Inc, was charged with 12 counts of wire fraud on Wednesday.

Seth Kirschenbaum, an attorney representing Podolsky, said in a statement his client’s conduct with Delta’s loyalty program was “not fraudulent” and that allegations that the conduct was illegal are “simply wrong.”

Podolsky registered clients as employees on Delta’s SkyBonus program, which provides rewards to businesses when their employees travel, to earn miles off the flights he booked for them, the Justice Department statement said.

A Delta spokeswoman said the company is “happy to see any kind of fraud indicted” and will work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department to ensure the case is “prosecuted to its fullest extent.”

Reporting by Bryan Pietsch; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall