Former Delta Employee Pleads Guilty to Giving Away Free Tickets

by SharonKurheg

If you work at a place that sells things, that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to give those things away for free.

If you work for Tesla, it doesn’t mean you can obtain a car for free and sell it to someone at a profit. You’re not allowed to ship things for your friends, charge them and pocket the money, even if you work for USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc. And if you work for Delta, you can’t just get free flights, exchange them for money that you keep, and no one pays the taxes.

A former Delta employee just discovered that the hard way. In fact, he’s even pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.

Officials said Aquil Basseer Muhammad, a 36-year-old resident of St. Paul, MN, was a ticketing specialist for Delta in Minneapolis. He began obtaining free “non-rev” airline tickets in 2016, and selling them to friends and family, often being paid through Square. He did so without any compensation going to Delta. On top of that, he also made fake transportation credit vouchers and Delta travel vouchers to cover the required taxes.

He continued doing this from late 2016 through December 2017. The total was over 230 tickets, with a value of roughly $447,000.

Airline employees are, of course, allowed to offer “non-revenue” (“frequently known as “non-rev”) tickets to family and close friends. They themselves can also fly as a non-rev passenger. Non-rev passengers have to try to get a seat via standby status, but it can be worth it to them since the cost is so little. The airline makes little money on non-rev tickets since they’re a fraction of the cost of a regular ticket. Taxes on the ticket sometimes need to be paid, but not always. Non-rev tickets have no other value and are not to be sold at a profit to the person offering them.

Muhammad’s big mistakes were (A) selling non-rev tickets (B) not offering any compensation to Delta and (C) leaving the airline on the line for having to pay the taxes. That’s fraud. A federal offense, no less. Hence “USA v. Muhammad.” The FBI is involved in the case.

“Muhammad exploited his position of trust at Delta to enrich himself by selling fraudulent tickets,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “He was even bold enough to use his personal email address as the contact person for some of the illegal transactions.”

“With this guilty plea, Muhammad acknowledges his criminal wrongdoing and can now be held accountable for his selfish actions,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI will always strive to expose corrupt employees that take advantage of their trusted positions of employment.”

Sentencing for Muhammad is scheduled for June 7.

*** Many thanks to Samantha S. for the heads-up about this incident

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1 comment

JSerra March 16, 2023 - 6:26 pm

As a current United States Postal Service employee, we do NOT get employees discounts of free shipping. Heck not even the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, gets free postage.


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