The travel industry is riddled with potholes and often are taken advantage of which an airline in the US got to know about when it was gamed of $1.75 Million by an Azerbaijan man known as Gennady Podolsky who was often regarded as a Travel agent par excellence and was known for getting his clients from one destination to another with speed and insight. He allegedly embezzled 42 million SkyBonus points.
In the year 2016, a wired description illustrated a man who had used his "deep bag of tricks" to a range of situations. Be it the Nigerian chess players making a tough journey to Norway or a traveller who needs to leave Azerbaijan. Apart from his own travel intelligence, reportedly he used internet's favourite tools of proxies, private browsers among others to find the lowest and best possible fares for his customers. According to reports, the rest of his methods are trade secrets and that while explaining his methods he smiled innocently and said that they have to get very creative. One of his tricks which prosecutors have alleged was to fraud Delta SkyBonus miles program, a kind of loyalty program for Delta customers. He reaped millions of points and booked tickets on behalf of the company's customers, which prosecutors said were prima-facie of Russian and Eastern European origin who lived in a different country.
Reportedly, the US Attorney said that Podolsky used his knowledge of the travel industry to take advantage of travel agency customers and through his access, he allegedly took advantage of Delta Airline corporate loyalty program reaping millions of SkyBonus points worth more than $1.75 Million. On September 12, an owner of Vega International Travel agency was indicted in Atlanta state on charges of wire fraud after being indicted by a grand jury. He pleaded not guilty and will be allowed to await trial at his residence in Chicago, assistant US Attorney John Ghose in a statement revealed.
Delta Airline's SkyBonus program permits businesses to garner points with their employees to travel with the airline that can be spent on flights and other airline services. But there's a condition which is that traveller must be an employee of the company to be able to claim this. Prosecutors added that Podolsky made a SkyBonus account in a fertility clinic and owned by a family member of Vega International Travel's president and then booked flight tickets for his customers using that account passed them as employees of the fertility firm. Podolsky allegedly incorporated the fraud between March 2014 and April 2015 and collected and claimed more than 42 million SkyBonus points prosecutors said.
According to reports, in a statement, Podolsky's lawyers refuted that his actions were fraudulent or that Delta suffered any loss. The statement further said that: Gennady Podolsky is a respected and a travel advisor of a high skill who has had the loyalty of customers for many years now. Podolsky's actions were not at all fraudulent and while the Government may say that Delta is the victim, the evidence at trial shall show as to how Delta instead got millions of dollars of profit from its relationship with Mr. Podolsky. The accusation that Podolsky's conduct somehow disadvantages customers is unfounded.
Delta Airlines issued a statement which said that they were happy to see any kind of fraud which was indicted and will continue to with the FBI and District Attorney's office to make sure this case is protected to the fullest extent possible. Podolski origins can be traced from Kyiv in Ukraine, he holds dual Ukranian and American citizenship. He arrived in the US at 17 to attend Swarthmore College and opened his first travel agency in 1993, according to reports.