New Hampshire Woman Arrested For Allegedly Stealing $300,000 Worth Of Delta Miles From Ex Employer

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A New Hampshire woman who used to work for the retailer Brookstone has turned herself in to police after a warrant was issued based on her theft of 2 Million airline miles from her former employer.

The value of the miles was said to be US$300,000 which sounds rather implausible for any type of loyalty currency, let alone Delta Skymiles/SkyBonus points.

Over the years there have been several cases all over the world where courts had to consider the value of miles when it came to criminal matters of stealing them or even civil litigation of who is entitled to use mileage collected while traveling on the companies dime.

This particular case was published yesterday in the New York Times (access here).

Police in New Hampshire have accused a woman of stealing over $300,000 worth of airline miles from a former employer’s account. …

Thirty-six-year-old Tiffany Tomaselli, of Manchester, was charged Saturday with theft by unauthorized taking and other offenses after she turned herself in to police.

Police say executives at the Merrimack-based retailer Brookstone discovered Tomaselli used company airline miles after leaving her position as an executive assistant in 2013. Company officials say Tomaselli accessed a Delta Air Lines account used for business trips. A company audit says Tomaselli used over 2 million points on trips to multiple countries.

A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 7.

There aren’t really any particular details in this NYT article but there are multiple ways this theft could have transpired if the lady is in fact guilty.

Either she kept access to various personal accounts where Delta SkyMiles are collected (very unlikely as those are tied to individuals, not to the company) or she still had access to the corporate bonus program Delta SkyBonus (see here) which sounds more realistic as the program allows to assign specific account managers that are authorized to redeem points from that account. When employees resign or are let go from a company it’s often overlooked to also purge their access to such treasure coves immediately.

The problem here? 2 Million points don’t really get you all that far, especially not to the valuation of $300,000 which makes the entire case rather ridiculous.

Want to know what you can buy for Delta SkyBonus points? Have a look here.

Let’s assume one redeems for Premium Class tickets that would 425k to/from Hawaii, 700k to Asia/Australia and 540k to Europe. Let’s assume she used 3-4 long haul Delta One tickets that would be a realistic value of max US$20-25,000 and I’m using a conservative estimate here.

I’d consider the value of 2,000,000 SkyBonus points to be ~ US$12,000.

If you consider the low Business Class fare available on the market and the likelihood that the accused also used Economy Class flights where the value is completely down the drain you can even shave a large part of that off.

I’m not sure if it’s worth it to the company (Brookstone) creating such big PR headlines for a longer period of time for the few miles. It might have made more sense to try and get some form of compensation through a settlement instead of making this a criminal matter and embarrassing the company for their lax security measures.

Conclusion

She might have stolen something which is obviously illegal but the valuation is totally out of whack und rather unfair. Let’s hope her attorney will push for a proper adjustment of the value as her sentence will probably reflect the value of the damages caused.

If you stole something worth $300k is a bit different from $15k but that being said, in New Hampshire any theft that amounts to more than $500 is considered grand theft (Larceny). There could also be charges of Embezzlement. I have a feeling we’ll keep reading about this case in the months to come!

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