American Airlines ticket agent accused of half million dollar credit card fraud

A (now former) American Airlines ticket agent from San Jose airport has been arrested upon suspicion of a running a major credit card theft scam.

Micheline Johnson, pictured here, worked the airline ticket counter at Mineta San Jose International airport for American Airlines. As part of her job, she regularly dealt with passenger credit cards to pay for tickets, fees and other charges. Each time she was handed a credit card, she would make a copy of the data stored on the card and hand it back to the passenger.

Using special equipment, she then made replicas of the cards, and made purchases at Safeway stores in California, Nevada and Washington between 2007 and 2010. In total, she is accused of making at least 2,800 transactions on 350 credit cards, totaling over $480,000.

Using the cloned cards, she would purchase gift cards, then use those cards to buy electronics which she then sold on eBay.

Prosecutors say they do not know how she made copies of the cards, but her scam was uncovered when someone turned on her and notified Safeway. Unfortunately, none of the high-tech fraud protection systems in place at credit card companies were able to pinpoint the fraud to cards used at the airport, and if weren’t for the person that notified Safeway, this fraud could have gone undiscovered for many more years. Johnson had worked for American Airlines for ten years. She is now being charged with grand theft, possession of stolen property and identity theft. Bail was set at $1 million. If convicted, she faces up to twenty years in jail.

This ticket agent scam was reported the same day a travel agent was caught selling thousands of fake travel vouchers to unsuspecting customers – clearly not a good day for honest people.

[Photo: San Jose DA]