A Modern Day “Catch Me If You Can”
If you’ve ever seen the film, "Catch Me If You Can", you know about the story about Frank Abagnale and how he impersonated Pan American World Airways (PanAm) pilots because he wanted free travel around the world, ending up traveling on over 250 flights to 26 countries.
Well like a copy-cat, US federal officials say that 37 year-old Gilbert Myers Jr. of Atlanta, Georgia, impersonated an airline employee to get cheap travel and even resold tickets for thousands of dollars. Myers was arrested in a Beverly Hills hotel after agreeing to meet up and sell a ticket to an undercover FBI agent.
Airlines often provide free travel for their employees and heavily discounted standby travel also known as “non-rev travel” to other airlines.
But how did Myers pass as an airline employee in today’s modern security? Starting as far back as 2012 Myers called airlines posing as an employee from another airline and asked for nonrev travel. Over half of the fraud was committed on JetBlue Airways authorities report.
"JetBlue uncovered this fraudulent scheme and brought this matter to law enforcement for further investigation," said Sharon Jones, a spokeswoman for the airline. Jones said that JetBlue employees use the service for their non-rev travel and so do employees from other carriers. But flight attendants and pilots in some cases can make reservations over the phone, she said.
Myers was being investigated by the FBI terrorism task force for quite sometime according to authorities. Not to worry, though, the safety of the public was never compromised as each ticket that was bought and used fraudulently was subject to the regular airport screening.
If convicted, Myers could face up to 20 years in prison for EACH of the counts in the indictment.
Cover Photo credit: Dreamworks