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Two men scam airlines out of $550,000 through baggage scheme

American Airlines
(AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Two men have been arrested after they allegedly scammed several airlines out of $550,000 in a lost baggage scheme.

31-year-old Pernell Anthony Jones Jr. and 29-year-old Donmonick Martin were taken into custody earlier this month after an investigation into possible false claims and mail fraud.

Investigators say starting in 2015, the Louisiana area men filed lost-luggage claims on 180 flights despite never once checking any baggage.

According to the report, Jones would purchase the airline ticket online using preloaded gift cards and fake identities. He would then present the false identification at the airport, collect a baggage-claim ticket but wouldn’t actually check a bag through.

After the flight, Jones would contact the airline about his lost baggage and file a claim. In each claim Jones stated that the lost bag contained valuable items worth more than $3,500, which is the maximum compensation allowed under law.

Jones then used Martin’s address to send either the lost baggage or the check to Martin’s home.

When the airline could not find the bag after a month’s time, they would send a check of $3,500 to the address provided.

Prosecutors say the men collected over $550,000 from the airlines.

Jones and Martin have been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Jones faces up to 20 years behind bars while Martin faces up to five years if convicted.

Martin’s first court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 6th, and Jones’s is set for Oct. 13th.