Travel agency owner accused of scheming to defraud airlines

Prosecutors on Monday filed felony charges against the owner of a Grand Junction travel agency who is suspected of defrauding several airlines out of tens of thousands of dollars.

Rodney Thompson, 52, was charged with three counts of theft of more than $20,000, three counts of theft of between $1,000 and $20,000, one count of committing a computer crime resulting in the loss of more than $20,000 and six counts of check forgery.

He will return to court May 3.

Thompson was arrested Feb. 26, two months after police executed a search warrant at Thompson’s business, Travel Masters, 1133 Patterson Road, Suite 5. The search warrant affidavit indicates an audit completed by United Airlines suggested Travel Masters had defrauded the carrier out of more than $340,000 between November 2003 and September 2009.

The affidavit alleged Travel Masters collected fees from customers for a booked airline flight, then voided the ticket within seven days. Travel agencies are required to pay airlines and book tickets within seven days of taking customers’ money.

Travel Masters then reissued the tickets a few days before the customers’ scheduled travel date at a reduced rate, then kept the extra cash, the affidavit said.

Aside from United’s complaints, Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Lufthansa Airlines, and American Airways also suspected Travel Masters was defrauding them, the affidavit said.

Thompson remains free from the Mesa County Jail on $50,000 bond.


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