BA hit by ticketing fraud

BA hit by ticketing fraud

An elaborate ticketing fraud by a Heathrow Terminal 5 manager is said to have cost British Airways almost £250,000.

The scam involved the purchase of hundreds of cheap advance tickets and then converted and sold just before flights departed as expensive "last minute" deals.

A ticket bought for £1,700 weeks before the flight for up to £5,500 just before take-off, an employment tribunal heard.

The fraud was exposed in a security audit at Heathrow and the perpetrator Mark Smith was jailed, it was said.

It emerged during the employment tribunal of Allan Russell, a colleague of Smith, who was cleared of any wrong doing but still dismissed by the airline.

The tribunal in Reading heard that Terminal Five manager Smith bought the advance tickets, and then asked Russell to convert them at the last minute on a check-in computer.

The expensive tickets were then sold through a fake travel agency Churchley Smith Lifestyle, the Daily Telegraph reports today.

Russell, who worked at Heathrow Terminals 1 4 and 5 told the tribunal he was given free Take That tickets and passes for the X-Factor by Smith in exchange for converting the airline tickets on his computer.

Russell was cleared by the same jury and is suing BA for unfair dismissal, breach of contract and public interest disclosure.

He claimed that he had done nothing wrong and had actually "whistleblown" on the air fare scam so was wrongly sacked.

He was acquitted of fraud in August last year but his former colleague Smith was jailed for three years for three counts of fraud.

The hearing continues.

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