San Jose Airline Worker Accused In $500k Credit Card Scam

SAN JOSE (CBS 5) — A former American Airlines employee is accused of ripping off nearly $500,00 from passengers at San Jose’s Mineta International Airport as part of a complex credit card skimming scheme, authorities said Wednesday.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office alleges that Micheline Johnson of Concord stole the personal information off of credit cards she handled while she worked as a part-time ticket agent for the airline.

For more than three years, the 49-year-old allegedly used the information skimmed to create counterfeit credit cards that she used primarily to buy $100 gift cards at Safeway grocery stores in California, Nevada and Washington.

Prosecutors contend she then used those gift cards to buy expensive gadgets that she sold online. Safeway analysts told authorities they linked Johnson to at least 2,800 transactions; the purchases totalled more than $480,000.

Johnson was arraigned in court on a 66-count felony complaint charging grand theft, possession of stolen property and identity theft.

She remained held on $1 million bail Wednesday at Santa Clara County’s main jail and is due back in court Feb. 28 to enter a plea to the charges.

If convicted, Johnson could face up to 48 years in prison.

Prosecutors said there were likely more than 350 victims whose credit card data was skimmed. Some were from the Bay Area, but investigators believe a large number were travelers who happened to pass through the San Jose airport.

The alleged scheme began sometime around December 2007 and lasted through October 2010, Deputy District Attorney Tom Flattery said.

The case was investigated by REACT, a District Attorney’s Office-led high-tech crimes and identity theft task force.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.)


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