Loveland Man Sentenced Four Years Involving Airline Tickets Fraud
Man Sentenced Four Years Involving Airline Tickets Fraud
By Bill Goldston
March 11, 2010 -
Christopher B. Watts, age 59, of Loveland, Colorado, was sentenced on
Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn to serve 51
months (over four years) in federal prison for wire fraud related to a
scheme purportedly selling discount airline tickets that did not exist.
prison sentence, Watts
was ordered to serve three years of supervised release and pay
restitution totaling $495,397 to nearly 90 victims. The defendant, who
is free on bond, was ordered to report to a facility designated by the
Federal Bureau of Prisons within 15 days of designation.
Watts was indicted by a federal grand jury in
Denver on May 5, 2008. He pled guilty before
Judge Blackburn on February 9, 2009. He was sentenced last Friday.
According to the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement,
beginning around April 2005, and continuing through around October
2007, Watts devised and executed a scheme to defraud various people
by fraudulently purporting to sell them “books” of airline tickets.
As part of the scheme, Watts falsely represented that he had access to
free or discounted airline tickets based on a retirement package he had
received from an airline which had formerly employed him or based on his
connections within the airline industry. Watts
usually purported to sell customers the fraudulent tickets in “books”
supposedly containing multiples of five tickets.
falsely represented that the records related to the airline tickets he
purported to sell were exclusively maintained in an electronic format
and that he was required to personally contact the airline in order for
tickets to be issued. This allowed him to prevent his customers from
discovering that the ticket books he purported to sell did not actually
exist. Watts used e-mail to communicate
with his customers. The submission of requests directly to him further
assisted in preventing the discovery of his fraud.
satisfied some of his customers’ requests for airline tickets by
purchasing regularly priced tickets, usually from a travel agent, and
then falsely representing them to be redeemed discount tickets. On a few
occasions, he offered customers additional discounts on books of tickets
if they would use credit cards to immediately purchase additional books
then used the credit card numbers of those customers to purchase
full-fare tickets for other customers who thought they were redeeming
discounted tickets. On other occasions, Watts used proceeds from
payments for books of tickets made by customers via check or wire
transfer to purchase tickets for other customers who thought there were
redeeming discounted tickets.
“This case proves
the age-old adage, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably
is,” said U.S. Attorney David Gaouette.
sentencing demonstrates the FBI’s continuing commitment to aggressively
investigate complex financial crimes, especially when 90 victims are
targeted by an individual,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge James