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Crime Air Passenger Pleads Guilty to Claiming Over $500k for Lost Baggage He Never Had

17:41  27 november  2021
17:41  27 november  2021 Source:   newsweek.com

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A Louisiana man pleaded guilty this week to his involvement in a scam that saw him and his co-conspirators falsely claim more than half a million dollars in compensation for lost baggage he never had.

Travelers check in at the Southwest Airlines ticketing counter at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on October 11, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. Southwest Airlines was one of a number of carriers that paid compensation to a man over false claims of lost baggage. © Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images Travelers check in at the Southwest Airlines ticketing counter at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on October 11, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. Southwest Airlines was one of a number of carriers that paid compensation to a man over false claims of lost baggage.

Pernell Anthony Jones of Kenner, Louisiana admitted to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of committing mail fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

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The guilty plea comes as many Americans have been traveling on airplanes for the Thanksgiving holiday and may have experienced the inconvenience of lost luggage and the need to apply for compensation.

According to a Tuesday statement from the Department of Justice, the 36-year-old Jones "took flights with commercial airlines under false or fictitious identities using fraudulent identification cards" beginning in or around 2015.

"When he arrived at the destination airport, Jones falsely claimed that his baggage was lost and requested reimbursement to compensate him for his lost luggage," the statement said.

"Through this scheme, Jones and his co-conspirators submitted over 180 false claims to commercial airlines."

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Those airlines included American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and JetBlue. Jones and his co-conspirators requested more than $550,000 in reimbursement from the carriers.

The airlines paid out more than $300,000 in compensation. Jones now faces up to 20 years in prison for each count and/or a fine of $250,000. He also faces up to three years of supervised release and a $100 mandatory special assessment fee.

According to Jones' plea documents, he was arrested on April 7, 2018 at Dallas Love Airport while trying to go through Transport Security Administration (TSA) screening and was found to have 36 fraudulent drivers' licenses and 47 credit cards under fictitious names.

At the time, Jones said he had the cards "for the purpose of obtaining promotional discounts for flights."

Jones was arrested again on March 5, 2020 at Louis Armstrong International Airport in Kenner, Louisiana while attempting to pick up a reimbursement check.

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On the same day, law enforcement searched his home and found 34 fraudulent drivers' licenses and 21 fake work identification cards, in addition to fake airline employee badges featuring Jones' photo.

Authorities have accused Jones of keeping track of the claims on a spreadsheet that included the details of the airlines and flights, as well using an app on his cell phone to generate fake phone numbers, and creating fake email accounts. Those fake contact details were allegedly created to match the fake IDs Jones was using in order to make the claims.

Jones is accused of giving the airlines his friends' addresses in order to receive the checks. He will be sentenced on February 24.

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