US court slams Marlboro Man defrauding airlines

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BOSTON: Marlboro man Pedro Igor Duarte was sentenced today by the American Court of Justice on fraud charges. Duarte was indicted of fraudulent baggage claims after his flights through various airlines.

Pedro Igor Duarte, 28, was sentenced to two years in prison, three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $28,210 in restitution. Duarte pleaded guilty to three counts of mail fraud in September 2013.

Duarte flew on various airlines including Continental Airlines, American Airlines, and AirTran Airways (now Southwest Airlines), between October 2007 and April 2009. The purpose was submitting and obtaining payment on lost baggage claims, when in fact he had not lost any baggage on those flights.

The convicted would check his baggage with the airline, prior to the flight and upon arrival; he would pick up his check baggage only to submit a lost baggage claim form, falsely stating that the airline had lost his baggage. He would slightly alter the spelling of his name on the baggage claim form so that the airline would not know that the same person was filing numerous lost baggage claims.

He also would provide a Massachusetts address or, alternatively, an address outside of Massachusetts, but would later contact the airline and change his address to a Massachusetts location. In support of his lost baggage claim, Duarte would provide the airline with receipts purporting to document the value of his lost baggage. Upon receipt of that information, the airline would mail him a check to compensate for the value of his purportedly lost baggage.

After indictment the American government learned that Duarte flew from Boston to Palm Beach, Florida under false identity and without authorization of the court in violation of his pretrial release during in April 2013. He also opened a mailbox and a bank account using fraudulent Brazilian passport and driver’s license. The Citibank account opened in Florida was used to facilitate the purchase and negotiation of fraudulent U.S. Postal money orders, some of which were fraudulent money orders that were ultimately deposited into Duarte’s wife’s bank account.

In November 2013, Duarte made false statements to federal agents by denying that he had opened the mailbox and Citibank accounts in Florida under the false identity. Duarte acknowledged depositing some of the money orders in question into his wife’s bank account but denied facilitating fraud.

Duarte appeared in courthouse for his hearing on 17th January but absconded before the court proceedings. The bench warrant issued and Duarte turned himself into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service on February 24, 2014.

About the author

Saad B Murtaza

Saad B. Murtaza is a journalist and creative writer based in Karachi. He has been working as an Investigative/Diplomat Reporter since 2010 and as a Creative Writer since 2008.

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