PHOENIX and SEATTLE -- When you pay a fee for changing your plane ticket, you expect the money to go to the airline, but police believe a ticket agent here in Arizona cooked up an elaborate scheme to take that money for herself.
According to the federal indictment handed down Wednesday, Lori Carroll, a former reservation sales agent who worked at the Alaska Airlines call center at Interstate 10 and Ray Road in Tempe, diverted more than $100,00 to her own account.
The scheme allegedly went on for years -- between August 2006 and June 2008.
According to court paperwork, Carroll would tell people who wanted to change their reservations that there would be a fee -- anywhere between $50 and $100 -- and take their credit-card numbers. She would then waive the fee in the Alaska Airlines system and use an online ProPay account to charges the cards. The account had an official-sounding email address -- email@example.com -- that would show up on customer's credit-card statements.
Customers thought they were paying Alaska Airlines, but the company was not getting any of that money -- some $120,000.
Alaksa Airlines, which is based in Seattle, said its internal system caught the alleged fraud. It also said the customers, 1,100 of them, were only out the change fees they would have paid any way.
"Alaska and Horizon take our obligation to safeguard customers' personal information very seriously," said the company in a statement to KING 5 News, 3TV's sister station in Seattle. "We notified law enforcement of the matter and are pleased that their investigation has resulted in this indictment."
A judge has issued a bench warrant for Carroll's arrest.