Craigslist scammer sentenced to four years

A Craiglist airfare scammer has been grounded.

Pascal Christian Chaubard, 48, of San Bruno, was sentenced Wednesday to four years in state prison for stealing money from 33 people who thought they’d bought cheap airline tickets on Craiglist, authorities said.

Between 2007 and 2009, the French national posted advertisements hawking cheap airline tickets on the website, saying he knew airline workers and could get cheaper flights than what the airlines provided.

Buyers gave cash or sent checks to Chaubard, a former employee of an unnamed airline that had fired him. But buyers either got no ticket in return or were duped into believing their reservations were legit, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

“Since you can make your reservation without paying for a few days, people would see their itinerary, forget about it and then when it came time to fly they wouldn’t have a ticket,” said Josh McFall, a detective with the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team — a law enforcement group that serves San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties.

In some cases he would provide victims with tickets purchased with stolen credit card and account information, authorities said. He would steal the information from his former employer, the said.

Chaubard would cancel reservations but would not return the money buyers had given him, officials said.

The fake airline agent developed quite a reputation online, where victims would post warnings about his scams.

McFall used several Internet fraud websites to locate the victims, saying losses may have exceeded $22,000. McFall discovered that Chaubard had been investigated by numerous police agencies around the country, including in San Francisco.

Many more victims were unable to provide any documentation to support their losses due to the amount of time that had elapsed since the crimes occurred, officials said.

Chaubard’s four-year sentence includes 589 days credit for time already served, Wagstaffe said. He will also have to pay restitution to the victims “in an amount to be determined,” among other fines, he said.

The case was continued to Dec. 10 for the restitution hearing.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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