Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

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Accused faces serious penalties for pretending to be flight crew

Though the basic definition of fraud involves the crime of intentionally deceiving someone for personal financial gain, there are many different types of fraud that have additional elements, with each one having to be proven in order to find the accused guilty of the crime. Where the fraud takes place over phone lines or utilizes electronic communications, for instance, the criminal charge can amount to wire fraud. One of the elements that must be proven to find someone guilty of wire fraud is proof that it was reasonably foreseeable that the accused would use wire communications.

An Atlanta man is currently facing three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy for allegedly booking airline reservations by pretending to be a flight crew member. According to investigators, he allegedly booked hundreds of flights on various carriers, costing the airlines hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to court documents, the 37-year-old would supposedly call an airline reservation center imitating a flight crew member from some other airline. Then, he would allegedly provide the traveler's name, the airline with which he was affiliated, the date he was hired and a fake employee identification number. Prosecutors also claim that the man would advise the travelers on how to dress for the part and answer any questions addressed to them.

According to the indictment, he charged around $2,000 for each traveler for a year of free flights.

Twenty years is the maximum statutory prison sentence associated with each conspiracy and wire fraud charge if the accused is found guilty.

As the above case demonstrates, fraud charges carry serious penalties with lengthy prison sentences. Atlanta residents facing criminal charges may not be aware that charges are just accusations-they still have the right to defend themselves and prove their innocence, if they choose to do so.

Source: WSB-TV Atlanta, "Georgia man charged with fraud for posing as flight crew member," July 11, 2014

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Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

Former Federal Prosecutors

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