UNION CITY, CA — A former employee of a travel agency based in San Francisco is alleged to have scammed customers travelling to Manila. Bogus airline tickets were sold and were therefore dishonoured upon presentation by the passenger over the airline counter upon departure.
Rodelio Malveda formerly of Lucky Tours and Travel has been in hiding since many passengers have come forward to file formal complaints against him.
Lucky Tours president Ruelle Medina said the company continues to process the claims of customers upon presentation of proof of payment made to Malveda. “We have agreed with Union City police to gather all the complaints before the company files a lawsuit that would lead to the issuance of an arrest warrant,” said Medina. More than 50 complaints have already been presented to Lucky Tours and Medina said they expect more to come in the days ahead.
Prior to this discovery, Malveda has been with Lucky Tours for more tha 18 years. He was manager of its branch office in the Bay Area of San Francisco.
It is believed that Malveda pocketed payments from passengers and would only remit money to the airline before scheduled departure date. Meanwhile, he enjoyed full use of the unremitted funds.
Not an e-ticket but a flight schedule
The scam surfaced when the Lucky Tours’ main office in San Francisco received a call from two different customers. Both said they bought their tickets from Malveda. They said they called the airline to confirm their flight but were told their names were not in the system. It meant that they were issued not an airline system generated e-ticket but a mere flight schedule.
Also posed as a real estate agent
Other people alleged that they were making partial or full payments to Malveda for the purchase of condominium units in the Philippines. They now suspect that Malveda did not remit those payments to the real estate companies in Manila. “With him gone, what happens to our money? And can we file a claim on the property we supposedly bought?”
Asked why Lucky Tours management was not able to uncover the scam much earlier, Medina said the company’s system, like that of other travel firms, takes only those transactions that are actually entered into it. The absence of any complaining customer did not help in detecting the caper early on, he added.
“It’s obvious that Mr. Malveda was revolving the cash payments of trusting customers,” she said. “He would use the money of recent customers so he could make good the ticket sale to those who had purchased earlier until he probably ran out of money to buy tickets that were due.” (FilAm Star)