A woman has been jailed for stealing the equivalent of over AUD 100,000 in a scam involving fake claims for missing baggage.
Charlotte Syers, 27, set up a series of fake lost baggage claims from British Airways customers for allegedly missing luggage – and went on to pay the refunds into her own bank account.
Employed in BA’s customer complaints call centre, Syers also took 40 fraudulent e-vouchers for discounted flights, which are issued to customers where they are felt to have a genuine complaint. She then sold the e-vouchers on eBay.
Like many frauds, it suddenly went terribly wrong. Syers made a mistake and sent a customer an email relating to a refund for lost baggage of more than GBP 4000 (AUD 8560).
The customer had never made a claim for a refund, and while his baggage did go missing it was returned to his home address.
Puzzled at first, the customer then alerted British Airways that it was a spurious claim – and one that must have been made by someone from within BA because of the nature of the details.
Syers’ unique reference number was used in relation to that claim, the prosecutor said. Her scheme then came unstuck. It turned out that Syers had stolen over GBP 52,000 (AUD 111,314)
“There was a further 13 fraudulent claims in relation to missing baggage in which the money was put directly into her bank account – the same bank account she received her pay from British Airways,” the court heard.
Syers effectively trebled her salary during that time, the Shields Gazette reported.
Syers admitted fraud by abuse of position. The court heard that she was previously of good character.
Judge Edward Bindloss told Syers: “You were in a position of trust. You were trusted to do your job honestly and accurately.
“You used the money to pay off financial commitments. You couldn’t stop yourself; you began to be fuelled by personal greed. You spent it on luxuries, an engagement party and holidays.
“Given the breach of trust here, this case is so serious only an immediate custodial sentence can be justified.”
The judge then sent Syers to prison for a year.
Written by Peter Needham