Two men from Louisiana in the US have been charged with defrauding airlines out of $550,000 by filing dozens of false lost-baggage claims, a statement released by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday revealed.
The two men, Pernell Anthony Jones, 31, and Donmonick Martin, 29, are accused of running the scam on several airlines following 180 flights in and out of Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, despite never traveling with checked bags.
“Jones was charged in a two-count Bill of Information with Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud,” the statement read, adding that if he were to be convicted, he faces a maximum term of twenty years in prison “as to each count and/or a fine of $250,000 or the greater of twice the gross fain to the defendant or twice the gross loss caused by the offense.”
He also faces a term of supervised release of up to three years “as to each count and a $200 mandatory special assessment fee.”
The other culprit, Martin, was charged with “one count of Conspiracy to Commit Fraud,” the statement read. The 29-year-old now faces a maximum of five years in prison and the same $250,000 fine to each count.
Martin also faces up to three years of supervised release and a $100 mandatory special assessment fee.
“According to court documents, beginning in or around 2015, Jones and his co-conspirators submitted over 180 claims to commercial airlines, including American, Alaska, Southwest, United, and JetBlue, requesting over $550,000 in reimbursement for luggage that Jones falsely alleged had been lost,” the statement read.
The airlines paid over $300,000 in fraudulent claims.
“The Bill of Information alleges that Jones would take flights with commercial airlines under false or fictitious identities using fraudulent identification cards. When he arrived at the destination airport, Jones would falsely claim that his baggage had been lost and would request reimbursement to compensate him for his lost luggage.”
Martin, however, was charged for his role in the scam which involved going into the airport in January 2020 under a “fictious identity” and “falsely telling American Airlines that his bag had been lost on a flight.”
“Martin’s Bill of Information also alleges that, on four occasions, Martin agreed to accept reimbursement funds from airlines for false claims for lost baggage,” the statement added.