A former United Airlines employee has been sent to prison for stealing passengers’ financial data and using it to make fraudulent purchases.
Hayder Lefta, of Manchester, New Hampshire, worked as a customer service representative at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in 2018 and 2019. Court documents showed that while assisting customers at the airport, the 25-year-old made a copy of their credit card numbers.
Lefta later used these stolen card details to purchase airline flights and meals for himself and for friends without the card owners’ consent.
Other expenses Lefta ran up on customers’ cards included bills for hotels he used for his personal leisure travel.
An investigation into Lefta was launched after a United Airlines customer who had used the airport in September 2018 discovered charges on their credit card statement that they hadn’t made.
The fraudulent charges included tickets on Turkish Airlines priced at $2,657 and $1,488, and a $112.31 order placed with a Manchester branch of pizza restaurant Domino’s.
Investigators linked Lefta’s phone number with the fraudulent Domino’s pizza order and determined that he had been working at the airport when the victim had traveled through it.
Lefta was eventually linked to more than $31,500 in charges made with stolen credit card numbers.
Police arrested Lefta on January 8, 2019, while he was working at the airport. A search of his three cell phones, iPad, and computer revealed images of multiple credit card numbers displayed on airline computers along with screen shots of passengers’ personal information.
At least 12 of the passengers whose personal information was found in Lefta’s possession had been the victim of credit card fraud.
“This defendant’s theft and use of credit card numbers from airport customers was a brazen crime that allowed him to go on an undeserved spending spree,” said Acting US Attorney John Farley.
“As a result of the hard work of our law enforcement partners, he is now a convicted felon who will serve prison time for his offenses and will need to pay restitution to his innocent victims.”