TSA Screener Charged With Ticket Scam

A travel agent who also is an airport screener has been charged with stealing more than $55,000 in a ticketing scheme by charging passengers adult fares but reporting them as lower infant prices and pocketing the difference, prosecutors said.

Laura Chico-Moreira (search), 37, allegedly operated the scheme while working as an independent travel agent for XLJE Tours. Chico-Moreira is also an agent for the federal Transportation Security Administration (search).

She was charged with grand larceny and falsifying the business records of Grupo Taca Airlines (search), which serves South and Central America, between December 2002 and June 2003, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Thursday.

Brown said Chico-Moreira sold dozens of full-fare adult tickets to her customers but reported to the airline that the tickets had been booked for infants, defined as children under age 2.

Ann Davis, a spokeswoman for TSA, said that for privacy reasons she could not divulge whether Chico-Moreira was or would be fired from her job. Davis did say that the alleged activity predated Chico-Moreira's employment at the TSA.

Chico-Moreira also faces unemployment insurance fraud charges for allegedly receiving more than $4,400 in benefits while she was actually self-employed as a travel agent, Brown said.

The alleged scheme was uncovered when a passenger learned that her ticket had been booked for an infant and lodged a complaint, which prompted an audit, Brown said.

Chico-Moreira was arrested at LaGuardia Airport (search) by New York City detectives. It wasn't immediately clear if she had retained a lawyer.