Continental pilot pension scam, nine disappointed pilots

Continental Airlines is looking to cash in on pilots who cashed in on a divorce scam. The pilots used sham divorces to divert more than $10 million to their ex-spouses. Post-divorce, the exes cashed in on retirement benefits, and the fliers could stay in the sky – and keep earning.

It’s really pretty simple. A couple divorces. The pilot assigns all pension benefits to the ex-spouse. Then, the recipient goes to a state court and gets an order for a lump sum. After the divorce was final long enough for the money to start rolling in, these couples “reconciled.” Yep, they remarried once the scam was complete.

So far, eight of the nine pilots are gone (either by quitting or being fired). One was rehired, because he promised to repay the cash. Apparently, he didn’t do so fast enough and has been named as a defendant. The spouses are being pursued, as well. Seven of the alleged scammers are men, and two are women.

If you don’t want to believe that greed is responsible for the situation, you can call what these pilots did a Darwinian play to protect their cash. The average pilot on Continental is eligible for a lump sum of up to $900,000 upon retirement. But, some airlines are terminating their pension programs and turning them over to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which backstops pension plans up to an amount that’s not even close to $900,000. Faced with the prospect of losing their pensions, therefore some are turning to (alleged) fraud.

In addition to the nine who got nailed, other pilots have tried and failed.

Think that’s bad? Click the pictures to read about other women causing problems in the sky:

San Antonio hotels involved in massive credit card theft

If you have spent a night in San Antonio recently, be sure to keep an eye on your credit card statements.

Information from 17,000 guests is reported to be involved in a large scale fraud with stolen receipts from 3 different hotels.

Authorities are declining to release the names of these hotels, pending their investigation, but a local newspaper identified one as the Emily Morgan Hotel.

So far, 7 people have been indicted on charges of identity theft and the possession of equipment to make or alter credit cards.

The whole thing probably boils down to criminals who worked at these hotels, and took printouts or copies of credit card receipts off premises with the sole purpose of using them for fraudulent purchases. The case even has some sort of tie to meth.

So, if you stayed in San Antonio, and used a credit card, be sure to keep an eye out for weird charges, and if you do happen to see something you did not authorize, contact your bank right away. In almost all cases, you won’t be liable for these fraudulent charges, but you may have some paperwork involved in proving your case.


Check out some of these weeeeeird hotels from around the world.

Owner of Low-Cost Carrier Jailed for Fraud

Businessman Tom Petters was arrested in Minnesota on Friday as part of a federal fraud investigation. He is the head of an investment group that owns Sun Country Airlines, along with stakes in several other businesses. He was charged with wire and mail fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice. Investigators allege that he masterminded a plan to bilk other investors out of at least one billion dollars.

A federal judge in Minneapolis order Petters to be held without bail after a taped phone conversation revealed that the disgraced entrepreneur planned to leave the country. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday. Petters has stated that he plans to fight to be released from custody and maintains his innocence.

What does this mean for Sun Country? The struggling budget carrier has always operated on a shoestring. Petters has agreed to step down from his decision-making position so that the airline will not be harmed by the scandal. However, the scandal comes on the heels of the announcement that Sun Country is struggling and will be “temporarily” cutting staff’s salaries by 50%.


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Man attacks a con artist with a golf club after being sold fake plane ticket vouchers on Craigslist

This story reads like something you’d see in a movie scene. It actually would make a good movie scene if you could build a movie around it.

This funny tale came our way from Christopher Elliot’s blog. Elliot, problem solver extraordinaire sometimes helps unhappy travelers find resolutions to their hotel and airline woes in order to get them a favorable outcome.

In the case of Ted LeClair, a man who bought travel vouchers for Southwest Airlines tickets at Craigslist from someone who checked out as reputable–but wasn’t, found his own happy ending from swinging a nine iron at the crook.

Elliot recounts the story in humorous detail, but here are the highlights:

  • LeClair buys Southwest ticket vouchers through Craigslist after meeting the guy selling the vouchers. They meet in person and the guy checks out.
  • LeClair’s daughter is at the airport with LeClair’s mother to use the Southwest ticket, only to find out the ticket needs to be paid for with cash since the credit card purchase was canceled.
  • LeClair’s daughter can’t take the Southwest flight and is in tears.
  • LeClair is hopping mad.
  • LeClair arranges to buy ticket vouchers on Craigslist from the same person, but as a fictious female using a female friend of his to make the phone call connection.
  • LeClair calls the police to tell them he knows how to catch a criminal. The police say, “Yeah, yeah, but give us five days.”
  • LeClair shows up at a health food store with a golf club where the crook is to hand over the vouchers to the fake female and book the ticket.
  • LeClair demands his money back and when the crook doesn’t comply, LeClair whomps on the crook with the nine-iron.
  • The police are called by folks at the health food store.
  • The police eventually arrest the crook and let LeClair go.